On the surface, the U.S. employment picture seems to be improving these days. We hear that we’re in a period of steady (albeit slow) economic recovery, that more and more companies are hiring, and that unemployment is gradually inching downward.
But according to recent surveys by Salary.com, many American workers don’t buy into the rosy picture, and are feeling increasingly gloomy about the country’s overall employment prospect.
While unemployment rates have dropped, underemployment remains a serious issue. In fact, if we calculate the growing number of Americans who’ve simply given up searching for jobs, as well as those who are only employed part-time but seek full-time jobs, the rate is closer to 14%. In addition, after every episode of federal government shutdown (which could become an ongoing trend), jobs aren’t being created as quickly as many economists and pundits hope. And then, of course, political fights over the debt are always looming on the horizon, making the prospects of improved full time employment more and more uncertain.
Maybe this sense of low morale and frustration at the sluggish economic recovery contributed to the overwhelmingly negative responses from more than 2,000 people in Salary.com’s “Value of Work” survey. Whatever the ultimate cause, it’s unmistakable that our attitudes about jobs in the U.S. are souring.
1. Little Love for Work
First, there was a remarkable change in worker attitudes in 2013 compared to the previous year when respondents were asked about their attitudes toward their jobs.
In 2012, the four most common responses to this question were “I’m proud of my work” (23%); “it gives me a sense of accomplishment” (22%); “it pays the bills” (19%); and “it’s a stepping stone to a better job” (16%).
Answers came out in inverted order this year.
The top response for 2013 were as follows: “it pays the bills” (29%); “it’s a stepping stone to a better job” (18%); “it gives me a sense of accomplishment” (14%). “I’m proud of my work” plummeted all the way to sixth place with just 11%.
2. For Love or Money?
The second question asked employees if they work because they like what they do or because their job pays the bills.
An overwhelming number of respondents – 73% – said they get out of bed everyday primarily for a paycheck, according to the Salary.com results. That figure marks an increase from the previous year when only 55% said they work primarily (or exclusively) for the money. Analysts suggested that this could be the result of lingering effects from the recession and difficult economic times for many American workers and families.
3. Why Make the Extra Effort?
Contented workers will go the extra mile at work. But this year’s respondents show a deflated sense of motivation. When asked if they would be open to putting in extra hours at their jobs, only 1 in 5 said thy were willing to burn the proverbial midnight oil. That’s a substantial decrease from last year’s 49% who were willing to work longer than normal hours for employers.
4. Employees Feel Chronically Overworked
The recession not only brought layoffs; those layoffs also left gaps in the workforce, meaning more work for remaining employees. With existing workers now doing the jobs of two, three, or four people, and with the rate of re-hiring progressing at a sluggish rate, it is hardly surprising that 5 out of 10 respondents said they feel constantly overworked. That number presents a 7 point increase over 2012 (45%)
5. Lack of Commitment
How much commitment do workers show in their jobs?
In years past it was common to get a job in your early 20s and remain with the same company for the next 40 years, retiring with a cake and a gold watch. A large number of employees were “company men” – workers loyal to their respective employers over the course of a lifetime. But those days are over.
When workers were asked to respond to the question of whether they were “100 percent committed” to their employers, 52% of those polled said yes. But that’s down from the 71% who answered in the affirmative the year before, indicating how frustrated employees feel. Who could blame them for being willing to jump ship if something better comes along?
Workers Compensation and Workers’ Rights Attorneys
If you have a work injuryor occupational disease, the Workers Compensation Lawyers of Emery Reddy can help you through the L&I claim process and get you the maximum benefits allowed under Washington law. Many workers also turn to us for experienced legal representation when they face a denied L&I claim, or a mandatory Independent Medical Examination. Finally, we have years of experience defending the rights of those injured by a third party. Call an L&I Attorney today for a free consultation.