From Job Challenges to Career Advancement, Today’s Workers Need More Support
With unemployment at a record high, organizations are facing a labor lethargy -- employees are feeling unsatisfied in their jobs, under-recognized and, according to Development Dimensions International’s (DDI) 2009 Pulse of the Workforce survey, poised to jump ship when the time is right.
“The economy has forced organizations to focus on generating revenue and delivering bottom-line results, but this data tells us they’ve forgotten about the importance of also focusing on their people -- putting their organizations at risk for high turnover, poor performance and low engagement,” said Jim Davis, vice president of workforce development for DDI.
The report’s major findings include:
Here are some additional findings:
What makes their jobs stagnant?
When compared to their peers, those who answered “yes” to this question are twice as likely to say they had no room to advance (32% of those who said their jobs are stagnant vs. 18% who said they aren’t), are less likely to be asked to do more (14% vs. 27%) and are given fewer exciting challenges (3% vs. 26%).
Physically present, but mentally “punched-out.”
The slumping economy has resulted in sluggish staffs -- 46% of workers who said their jobs are stagnant were twice as likely to “just do their job and go home” (versus 20% of those who don’t feel stagnated). They’re also less interested in what they do, and one-third as likely to say they’re excited to go to work. Many of today’s workers are mentally checked out of their jobs -- their workloads are increasing, but they aren’t getting interesting challenges or opportunities to learn new skills.
“People don’t just want more work -- they want challenging work,” Davis said. “If companies want workers to excel, they have to motivate them to do more than scrape by. “So what are people doing to pass the time at the office? Workers were just as likely to check their Facebook page during work hours (15% everyday) as they were to help a co-worker meet a deadline (14% everyday). And they were less likely to ask for or take on an extra assignment (9% everyday). Many chose to skip the office altogether, as 1 out of every 5 workers played hooky (called in sick when they weren’t) up to 3 times this past summer.
It’s not all about leadership.
Most workers would pass on a promotion to a leadership position. Overall, 62% of workers don’t have leadership aspirations – it’s one thing stagnant and non-stagnant workers agree on. In fact, when asked if they could leapfrog into any position in their organization, the vast majority of workers (58%) said they’d stay in their current role. “It’s easy for organizations to focus their development efforts on the leadership track, but they can’t afford to ignore this group of professionals that aspire to be the technical experts and gurus,” Davis said.
More than half of workers did not feel stretched outside of their comfort zone with their development or job opportunities -- two areas where companies could be providing their workforce with experiences to keep them engaged. This is proven by the fact that 24% of people who are being asked to take on new challenges that stretch them are also more excited to go to work. People who said their career is stagnant also were half as likely to be recognized for their efforts (27% vs. 56%). “For most people, the paycheck isn’t enough. They need to feel valued and challenged,” Davis said.
Because the grass is greener.
Stagnant workers are more than twice as likely to move on to another company and not look back, noting that they’ll leave for another company if given the opportunity (77% vs. 32%). This is a major risk for organizations that are preparing for the upturn. Workers who don’t feel they’re being used to their full potential and have no place to go are more likely to leave. The only thing stopping them now is the economy (26% of those who said their jobs are stagnant vs. 9% who said they aren’t).
“Companies that have taken their eye off of the ball when it comes to their employees will lose good people to other organizations and even competitors,” Davis said. In fact, 10% of stagnant workers will only wait another month before they make a change and 1 in 4 said they’ll wait no more than 90 days.
Getting too technical?
According to respondents, technical and interpersonal skills training are equally important for success. Technical skills still ranked as a top choice for training (not surprising considering technical training is often mandatory for professionals). However, interpersonal skills like resolving conflict, presenting/selling ideas, communicating and managing change also ranked high on the list of desired training. When asked to rate confidence around skills, interpersonal skills are clearly lagging -- only half of workers rated their interpersonal skills as “very good” or “excellent.”
“Interpersonal skills are crucial to everything an employee has to do today,” Davis said. “If companies want employees to step up their performance, they have to develop these critical skills.”
Development Dimensions International conducted the Pulse of the Workforce survey with 1,000 employed U.S. workers across industries and throughout the United States in August 2009.