Business Trends

More Than Half of U.S. Workers Say Their Jobs are ‘In Limbo’

In economy on September 4, 2009 at 9:51 pm

More than half of employed workers surveyed (1,000 employed US workers across industries throughout the country) said their jobs are stagnant, according to Development Dimensions International’s 2009 Pulse of the Workforce survey.

What makes their jobs stagnant? When compared to those who don’t think their jobs are stagnant, 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%)
-Are given fewer exciting challenges (3% vs. 26%)

Companies trying to grow again will feel the impact of this dissatisfaction. “The economy has forced organizations to focus on profits and the bottom-line, 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.

Flight risk


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). Half of those who said their jobs are stagnant plan to look for another job when the economy improves and are more than twice as likely to move to another company if given the opportunity (77% vs. 32%).

“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.

In a slump

The slumping economy has resulted in labor lethargy. Forty-six percent 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 stagnant). 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. “This mentality is putting stress on the organization now, but will be even worse as the economy improves and as companies start to bring new employees in through the front door, their current employees will be walking out of the back door,” Davis said.

A place to grow

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 (56% vs. 27%). “For most people, the paycheck isn’t enough. They need to feel valued and challenged,” Davis said.

Summer slacking

So what are people doing 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 more likely than they were to ask for or take on an extra assignment (9% everyday).
And many chose to skip the office trip altogether, as 1 out of every 5 workers played hooky (called in sick when they weren’t) up to 3 times this summer.
“Look at the people who sit around you in the office–one has probably called in sick, skipping the water cooler to go to the pool instead, another is more likely to update their Facebook status than take on a new assignment,” Davis said. “People are just trying to get by in their jobs and companies aren’t taking measures to re-engage their workers and improve productivity.”

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