Where is your career going?

September 5, 2012
By: Vicki Bell

We hear a lot these days about the plight of employers looking for skilled workers and job seekers who can’t find jobs. What we don’t hear about too often—mostly because they are so grateful to be employed and want to remain so—is how the employed among us really feel about their jobs and careers, beyond gratitude.

According to a new survey from Randstad, the second largest HR services and staffing company in the world, half of U.S. workers believe the economy has impacted their careers negatively. Forty-three percent believe their careers have slowed down, and it will be harder and will take more time to achieve career growth. Half of employees surveyed also believe the only way to help grow their careers is to switch to a new company.

Even though many employees feel they have lost ground, the majority remain engaged at work and report mostly positive attitudes towards their current jobs and employers, according to the survey. Three quarters (75 percent) feel inspired to do their best, and 66 percent feel that their efforts are valued and recognized.  Yet, the number of workers reporting plans of exploring other job options rose by six percent (51 percent in Q2 versus 45 percent in the first quarter).

"U.S. workers have been committed to their jobs during the last few years, but companies will lose top talent now if they don't address employees' fears around stalled career growth due to the economy," said Jim Link, managing director of Human Resources for Randstad U.S.

"Employers need to examine career development options for their employees before workers begin exploring a career catch-up with a new company. At that point, it's often too late, and employers lose solid performers because they weren't in-tune with their career needs and goals."

Just over a third (36 percent) of employees indicated the most important activity for ongoing engagement is offering promotions or bonuses to high-performing employees. Also topping the list of the most important engagement activities are: providing a comfortable and stimulating work environment (30 percent); encouraging employees to share their ideas and opinions (28 percent); and investing in employees' careers through training, professional development, or continuing education (28 percent).

"According to our study, 66 percent of employees feel their company actively tries to keep employees engaged, however companies today need to realign their retention and engagement programs to focus on which activities will make the biggest impact," said Link. "Even the most engaged employees are evaluating their career paths and determining their personal career growth strategies."

As a friend once told me when we were discussing our jobs, “Everyone wants to think they have options.” Clearly, some of us believe we have more options than others.

The Randstad survey asked how long it would take to find a new job if a worker lost his or her job today. Most respondents believe it would take three months or less to find another job. Almost one in five believe it would take less than a month, and an equal number believe it would take a year or more to find a new job, if ever.

Your chances of losing your job today apparently are relatively low. Just 6 percent of organizations responding to a recent Bloomberg BNA survey expect to reduce technical/professional employment levels in late 2012. Fourth-quarter cuts in production/service staff are anticipated by 8 percent of employers, and office/clerical cutbacks are forecasted by 7 percent of respondents.

Reportedly, workforce cutbacks have fallen back near pre-recession levels. The Bloomberg survey concluded that while a post-recession hiring boom has yet to materialize, the threat of job loss and layoffs has dissipated substantially over the past several years.

I guess the takeaway from these surveys is that you probably can breathe a little easier if you’ve been worried that you’ll lose your job. If you feel as though you’re just spinning your wheels where you are and want to move on, keep looking, and good luck.

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Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209