Happy Labor Day: 95% of Workers Would Consider Looking For New Job

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Dec 28, 2010
This article is part of a series about Editor's Pick.

Editor’s Note: This week, TLNT is counting down the most popular posts of 2010. This is No. 19 in our Top 25. We’ll continue to do this through New Year’s Eve. Our regular content will return on Monday January 3, 2011.

Remember that survey earlier this month that said that 40 percent of workers were ready to find a new job this fall? Well, who would have thought that was actually positive news?

That’s because according to the 2010 Spherion Staffing Services Labor Day Workforce survey just released this week, an overwhelming majority of respondents “said they would consider looking for a new job in the future or are actively looking right now, regardless of whether they enjoy their job or not.”

So, how overwhelming a majority are we talking about?

Would you believe an incredible 95 percent?

Yes, you read that right. In the Spherion Labor Day Workforce Survey, only 5 percent of workers said that they “enjoy what they are doing in their current job, and would not consider another job.” Or to put it another way, more than nine out of 10 of those surveyed are ready to bolt from their current employer, and it may not take all that much to push them to do it.

“The findings from this year’s Labor Day Survey are a clear indication that the recession has left gaping wounds in the mindset of today’s workers,” said Loretta Penn, president of Spherion Staffing Services, in a press release accompanying the survey. “This study is a vivid reminder to U.S. employers that workers have paid a hefty price during the recession, and old wounds take a long time to heal. We may see an enduring toll on workers’ optimism, outlook, and overall satisfaction for many years to come.”

Other highlights from the survey:

  • 60 percent of workers say they are not optimistic about the direction of the U.S. economy;
  • 62 percent feel less secure about their job compared to a year ago;
  • 37 percent feel more negative towards their job since the start of the recession;
  • 53 percent of survey participants have had to assume additional responsibilities or workload during the recession because co-workers were laid off;
  • Some 93 percent of those who said they had to assume additional responsibilities said they did not receive additional compensation for the extra work;
  • 56 percent of respondents did not take a vacation in the past year;
  • Of the 44 percent who said they did take a vacation, one-third indicated they did not completely disconnect from their job responsibilities while they were out;
  • And, nearly 30 percent of survey participants say they worked from home the last time they called in sick.

In case you’re curious, the Spherion Labor Day Workforce survey was conducted online in the U.S. by Monster Worldwide on behalf of Spherion between July 15-28, 2010 among a sample of 896 working adults, aged 20 years and older. Respondents represent those invited to participate in the survey, which includes both full and part- time workers.

“During this time when companies will need to rely on a productive, engaged, and focused workforce to lead recovery efforts, these findings underscore some sizeable improvements that need to be made,” said Spherion’s Loretta Penn. “Business leaders must be laser focused on ways to ease unsustainable workloads, offer better work/life balance, and institute measures to address the 95 percent of workers who are just waiting to walk out the door.”

But, there is a more bullish point of view

Even though this survey is pretty depressing (especially if you work in HR or talent management), there are more positive and optimistic views out there. One of them comes from John Challenger, CEO of global outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas. His annual Labor Day outlook is actually fairly bullish compared to the Spherion survey.

“By most accounts, we are barely a year into the recovery,” Challenger says. “At this point in the previous two recoveries – following the 1991 and 2001 recessions – the job market was actually getting worse. Many people are so caught up looking at the weekly and monthly numbers, that they fail to look at the bigger trends, which indicate just how much the job market has improved over the last 12 months.”

And he added: “the statistics indicate that the job market has made great strides over the last 12 months and appears to rebounding sooner compared to the previous two recessions…(Yes), this recession also experienced a period of jobless recovery. However, an examination of several employment trends suggests that this jobless recovery may have lasted just six months and is now on a positive track.”

So there you have it – two different views on the state of the American workforce as we close in on Labor Day. Where you stand probably reflects how you and your organization are doing right now — and, how many employees you have in that 5 percent category who “would not consider another job.”

This article is part of a series about Editor's Pick.