Managers: Do Your Employees Think Work Has Become Less Rewarding?

BY Kathy Crosett
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In the era of employees receiving more generous benefits and employers trying to allow for a healthy work-​life balance, members of today’s workforce are distinctly unhappy. New findings in the State of American Jobs report from the Pew Research Center show workers are feeling less secure in their positions. Team members also don’t feel that their benefits are as good as they used to be. These attitudes directly impact employee loyalty.

The Problem

Compared to the Great Recession, employee concerns about finding good jobs have improved. Today, only 65% say it’s hard to find a good job in their local market. In 2009, that number stood at 84%. These numbers are not as positive with respect to lower-​income workers. Of those who earn less than $30,000, 72% believe it’s hard to find a good job. Life in the country is a challenge as well, where 76% of U.S. adults struggle to find employment that pays well. Once they find a job, employees worry about the future. Compared to the past, 63% of workers say there is less job security today.

Workers also feel stressed about their on-​the-​job performance. Once they have a decent job, 66% of workers say they believe constant training and updating of skills is necessary. Despite the extra effort to perform at work, team members don’t feel very rewarded. The Pew data shows that almost half of workers, 49%, say employers have cut back on health insurance coverage, paid time off, and contributions to retirements plans. All of these perceived shortcomings on the part of business owners and leaders translate to decreased loyalty. At least 56% of workers say they are feeling little loyalty to their companies.

The Solution

These statistics should serve as calls to action for business leaders. Workers realize they need training to stay current. If you offer on-​the-​job training, position your courses and programs as employee development opportunities. Include coursework that will help your employees succeed. For example, surveyed workers say they need the following skills and knowledge:

  • Computer knowledge 85%
  • Ability to work with team members from diverse backgrounds 85%
  • Excelling in writing and communications 85%
  • Math and science knowledge 69%
  • Social media mastery 37%
  • Foreign language knowledge 36%

Consider giving some employees tuition reimbursement benefits or paid time off to pursue education coursework outside of the workplace that will help them succeed in their current positions.

The Pew data also reveals the importance of tying your team members’ sense of identity to their jobs. Only 42% of private company employees say their jobs give them a sense of identity. The comparable numbers are over 60% for people who work at nonprofit organizations, government agencies, or who are self-​employed. Employees who view their jobs as something they do to make a living may be more likely to leave their current positions. If you’ve invested training resources in these folks, you don’t want them to walk out the door. You want them to feel invested in a career and in your business.

Spend some time thinking about how to improve company culture. Survey your employees about what they’d like to see changed. Then, put those changes in place to improve employee attitudes and commitment to their work and your business.