by Mark Harbeke
There's a weird duality going on right now in the workforce. Unemployment recently topped 10% nationally – the highest it's been in over 25 years. This is distressing, to be sure, but what really has my attention is studies like the one referenced here which tell us that despite the bleak job outlook, lots of employees are unhappy with their current jobs and are looking to leave as soon as they can.
Surveying over 900 North American workers, Right Management found that 60% intend to leave their jobs – although the asterisk here is, if that the economy continues to improve. In an editorial a few months ago, Winning Workplaces pointed to a study in Newsweek which found that half of American employees say they'll look for a job once the recession ends.
Of course, we're not out of the woods yet when it comes to our fragile economy. Much more recently – last month – Newsweek reported that a new, "echo" market bubble may be brewing. If what the magazine describes plays out, and this bubble bursts like the last one, no doubt many workers will be changing their minds in these turnover-focused polls and push back or put off entirely their plans to change jobs.
I continue to believe that meaningful employee engagement and team building strategies can be the glue that helps hold companies together and keep them going, especially small ones when we face macro-economic problems like market bubbles bursting. In bad times, leaders can turn to these practices to level with their staff and take a temperature read on making group sacrifices, such as across-the-board pay cuts, so layoffs can be avoided.
We have written extensively about the chief benefits for companies that "share the pain" in tough times: retention of their valuable workforce, and competitive advantage over their peers when the latter inevitably need to do more hiring in a short time when things pick up. But there is another, less tangible but no less powerful benefit: companies whose workplace culture is all about communications team building have happier employees.
And happier employees, as Administaff and many others have concluded, are synonymous with greater productivity. That sets up a foundation for success, in any economy.