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Mar 28, 2014

Here’s some shocking news: employees aren’t terribly satisfied with their jobs, their employers, their growth opportunities under their current employers, or the way their organizations recognizes people for doing good work.

That just about cover it, doesn’t it?

I know what you’re thinking: what’s so surprising about all of this, anyway? What is it that I don’t know already?

Why we should all be concerned with retention

That’s a reasonable response, except for the fact that this information popped up during a benefits conference I attended last week, and it said to me that we should all be really concerned about retaining employees when you start seeing surveys about how unsatisfied they are on the job popping up at a benefits event.

The conference was Human Resource Executive‘s 2nd Annual Health & Benefits Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, and although the event is only in its second year, it has already become THE big must-attend benefits event of the year. I said this about the event last year, and the passage of 12 months and another year attending the event has only strengthened my conviction that this conference is “ THE go-to annual event for benefits professionals.”

Jennifer Benz, CEO of Benz Communications (and a longtime TLNT contributor), handles the agenda for the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference, and she does a great job bringing in sharp speakers with timely information that’s hard to get anywhere else.

In other words, if you can only choose one benefits show all year to go to, this spring event in Las Vegas is it.

Disappointing findings

But, back to the survey.

It was conducted for the APA (American Psychological Association) Center for Organizational Excellence, and presented during the conference’s opening session titled The Changing Landscape.

Here are the highlight findings from the study: “The majority of workers (67 percent) continue to report that they are satisfied with their jobs. Yet, less than half continue to be satisfied with the growth and development opportunities (47 percent) and employee recognition practices (47 percent) offered by their employer.”

What really hit me about the survey, however, was how the numbers seem to get worse even as the economic recovery slowly gets better. For example, here are percentages for workers who agree or strongly agree with the following questions:

  • All in all, I am satisfied with my job — 67 percent in 2013, down from 71 percent in 2012, and 69 percent in 2011.
  • Overall, I am satisfied with the amount of control and involvement I have at work — 61 percent, down from 64 percent last year, band from 62 percent in 2012.
  • Overall, I am satisfied with the work-life balance practices offered by my employer — 57 percent in 2013, down from 60 percent last year and the same (57 percent) in 2012.
  • Overall, I am satisfied with the employee recognition practices of my employer — 47 percent in 2013, down from 48 percent in 2012, but up a tad from 46 percent in 2012.
  • Overall, I am satisfied with the growth and development opportunities offered by my employer — 47 percent in 2013, up slightly from 46 percent last year and 44 percent in 2012.

What this says about American workers

Taken together, these are really mediocre numbers because they show that one-third of the workforce isn’t particularly satisfied with their job, or with a lot of other things in their organization.

And, it should tell you something about the state of the American worker when you start seeing surveys pop up about how unhappy they are at events that are supposed to be focused on something else entirely.

I’d said this before, but the day of reckoning is coming for American companies, and the combination of changing workforce demographics and a not-too-happy workforce may leave a lot of organizations finding that they wake up one day in the not-too-distant future with a huge labor issue on their hands.

Will employers stop offering health insurance?

Of course, there’s more than just another survey about the state of the American workers in the news this week. Here are some HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly round-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • Pimps are just middle managers? — Sometimes, the headline of a story just makes you have to read it. And this one from Bloomberg Businessweek, titled Pimps Are Just Middle Managers: Lessons From the Underground Sex EconomyIt points to a report from The Urban Institute on the economy of the sex industry and comes up with things like this: “Just as with office life for executives at Fortune 500companies, management takes up a significant amount of the pimps’ time. “To run a successful sex business requires recruiting, job training, marketing, setting prices, arranging date details, providing transportation if necessary, protecting the staff, collecting and managing money, and seeing to the needs of the employees,” the report explains.”
  • Suing after being fired for a bad background check — A Minnesota man is suing a background check company after getting fired from a job he held with Wells Fargo since 2009 as a result of a bad background check, according to a story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. It’s a bit of a complicated  tale, but it comes as (Minnesota) “state lawmakers consider legislation to revise court regulations on expunging records, including criminal histories. At a legislative hearing in November, dozens told lawmakers that laws designed to give reformed offenders a second chance should be overhauled.”
  • Why employers will stop offering health insurance — The New York Times’ You’re the Boss small business blog digs into why some believe that employers will get out of offering health coverage to workers. Here’s a prediction: By 2025, “fewer than 20 percent of workers in the private sector will receive traditional employer-sponsored health insurance.” The source of this claim? Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, in his just-published book, “Reinventing American Health Care.”
  • Counteroffers are a waste of time — I’m not a big reader of the financial website The Street,but this article about why counteroffers are a waste of time was one that caught my eye. It points to a Robert Half International survey of the subject, and says, “Companies that extend counteroffers can “poison the well” for other employees, establishing a precedent that can leave “lasting repercussions if others learn you have sweetened the pot to keep a fellow employee. It can lead team members to question their own compensation, Half says.”
  • Bonding with the interns. Late night talk show host Conan O’Brien seems to spend a lot of time with the interns on his staff. Here’s how the conversation goes.