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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Worker Insecurity Could Be Harming Productivity

Despite signs the economy is steadily improving, most employees feel less secure in their jobs compared to a year ago. According to our research as many as 71% of workers reported they are less secure in their job than last year, while 14% feel just as secure and 15% more secure.

This research finding surprised us. We really expected a more optimistic outlook by employees. In fact, we thought most respondents would tell us they were feeling at least as secure as a year ago now that it appears the recession is well past its depth. But it seems it will take more time for people to get over the trauma of the long downturn, and job security is probably the sort of indicator that lags behind any good news.

As further evidence, Manpower’s second quarter Employment Outlook projects that 74% of employers plan no staffing changes. With only 16% of companies expecting to hike hiring, and just 6% foreseeing any staffing decreases, it seems the word just isn’t getting through or that employers have been overly reticent about communicating their staffing plans with their employee base.

Persistent workplace unease can pose challenges for employers. Savvy leaders know that such widespread deep anxiety is no good for the organization in the long run. In order for employees to do their best they need to have a sense they’re valued by their organizations and engaged in a worthwhile pursuit. Top management has to address the job security issue head on, and communicate to workers what their role is in the organization’s future success.

Productivity may suffer when workers are busy with “water cooler” discussions, rumor mills and looking for a new job on your time-clock. The best thing a leader can do to promote security and confidence is to communicate regularly and with authenticity and candor. Most people feel greater confidence when they know they are dealing with the truth.

When was the last time you checked in on how your employees are feeling?

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