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Employee Priorities Shift in Light of Economy

April 8, 2009

The new economic stimulus plan has many people talking about what is to come. Hundreds of jobs are supposed to be created under this bill, putting hope back in the minds of the many unemployed Americans. The truth is though that the economy has affected those who are still employed as well. Many companies are undergoing layoffs, and even more have had to initiate hiring freezes. How have these actions impacted the US workforce?

According to a two part survey on “Employees’ Views on the Economy” conducted by Perrin Towers these actions have forced a switch in employee beliefs on what is important. No longer are they focusing on maximizing career advancement and income. The priority has shifted to securing basic pay and benefits packages in order to provide security and stability to themselves and their families.

This survey was given to 469 employees of medium to large size businesses and was first conducted in August 2008. Four months later, the same survey was given again and it reflected this switch in workforce sentiment, along with a feeling of shared destiny with existing employers. 76% of the people surveyed said they felt personally motivated to help their company succeed, up from 69% back in August. Emmett Seaborn of Towers Perrin said “Today’s workforce is quite sophisticated. They know the stability of their income depends on the stability of their company. They are willing to give in the short term, to get in the long term.”

Interestingly, despite the shift to job security, 4% more people reported they were not actively looking but would consider a new opportunity if one presented, than in August. This section of the survey also showed that depleted retirement accounts are forcing many to question if they can afford to retire when they had planned. In fact 14% of those polled in August said they planned on retiring in the next few years, but this dropped to 9% by December. This change may lead to interesting workplace dynamics in the years to come, as older employees stay within a company longer, decreasing the advancement opportunities for younger generations.

Below is a graph showing the results for aspects most important to employees. If you would like to view the results for the entire survey you can view them here.

employement graph

View Larger Image of This Graph
(source: towerperrin.com)