Workplace Rights

Weekly (9/14/09)

Topic of the Week  Quit and Stay... Problems reported by today's workplace survivors

Employee attitudes during tough times:

• 66% of employees disappointed with their paycheck
• 48% of employees unhappy with their relationship with their boss
• 59% of employees not on the same page with their coworkers
• 76% of employees unhappy with their future career opportunities
• 46% of employees say they’re twice as likely to just do their job and go home

Dear Readers: Labor Day generated two really interesting employee surveys (by Adecco and DDI) about the state of the American worker. With all the media focus on layoffs, there hasn’t been as much attention on the “survivors.” But let me warn those with weak constitutions, it’s not a pretty picture in cubeville today. And this has wide implications. Which reminds me of a recent trip I took to the top of the Seattle’s Space Needle. The elevator operator mentioned that someone once asked why they couldn’t see the Space Needle, from the Space Needle itself.

Sometimes we get so close to something that we can’t see it. Okay, in the case of the Space Needle it’s slightly pathetic, but it is also a problem at work. I hear from people who work for companies and bosses that seem to be in a fog about the impact that the difficult economy has on worker’s psyches and productivity.

Adecco found that 66% of workers are unsatisfied with their paycheck. That shouldn’t be a surprise, with pay cuts, benefit cuts and millions of laid-off spouses that there is frustration out there about pay. For every guy owed a $100 million bonus by Citigroup, most of us are moving backwards when it comes to our paychecks. My mail tells me that many workers feel that their companies are taking advantage of the crisis to reduce pay and perks for everyone not at the top rungs.

I was also surprised to discover that 48% of workers don’t like the relationship they have with their boss and 59% don’t feel like they’re working off the same page with their coworkers. Clearly this isn’t a lets-pull-together-to-make-it-through-tough-times economy. Unlike earlier economic stumbles, where people pulled together, it seems that today we’re hanging separately, to paraphrase Ben Franklin.

But the real surprise to me was the 76% who reported that they’re unhappy with their future career opportunities with their company. Three-quarters! With all the layoffs, this should be one area where employees see opportunity. I think this is a reflection of how most companies have not included employees in the process of coping with the tough times. I think this paints a bleak picture moving ahead.

DDI’s study had equally chilling and depressing results. 46% of employees surveyed said they were twice as likely to “just do their job and go home.” They also reported that employees were ready to look for a new job as soon as the economy improves. Finally they report that the survivors are willing to do what they’re asked, but nothing more.

I fear that many executives believe that their employees are delighted to have a paycheck and doing a good job. But as these results show, workers aren’t like an Etch-A-Sketch, that can just be shaken and all the fears suddenly disappear. No, many of us are carrying grudges and anger about what’s happened.

I’m not trying to needle you, just trying to remind everyone that it’s not wise to overlook employee concerns during tough times.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

Thought of the Week

"So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult to work."

–Peter Drucker

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week

    from Adecco

    More failing grades... Employees give thumbs down to management
    • 87% of workers are not satisfied with their company’s overall retention efforts.

    • 77% of workers are not satisfied with the strategy and vision of the company and its leadership.

    • 78% of workers are not satisfied with their company’s contribution to their retirement plans.


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