People@Work: As Summer Ends, Some Workers Feel It's Time to Go


It's August, and it can be a quiet time around the office as many Americans flock to the beach or escape to the countryside for one last respite before fall arrives. In the aftermath of so many layoffs in recent years, it's not surprising that those left behind are probably feeling more tired than they have during previous summer breaks, which is prompting a significant chunk of them to consider chucking it all for another job.

A recent survey of professional workers showed that 40% considered quitting their posts after the summer vacation season winds down. Among reasons workers cited for job dissatisfaction were lack of promotions (37%), uncommunicative bosses (40%) and -- not surprisingly -- being overworked (34%), according to the report, prepared by Regus, a worldwide workplace consulting firm.

"As workers pack up their swimsuits this summer, they are more likely to dwell on the pros and cons of the job that is waiting for them at home," says Sande Golgart, regional vice president at Regus.

Overworked, Underpaid

Other high-stress factors revealed in the Regus survey included workers who felt their companies lacked vision (31%) and believed that coworkers were incompetent, which 28% of respondents cited as reason enough for them to immediately resign. Rude colleagues and bosses who take credit for their underlings' work were also significant "final straw" factors.

What would it take for workers to stay? Aside from increases in pay, the survey showed that 41% of U.S. workers prize private medical insurance, while about a third wanted a 2.5% pension increase.

The survey isn't the first to suggest that employees are fed up. In June, this column noted that Labor Department data showed that in the prior three months more people had quit their jobs than had been laid off. Some analysts posited at the time that workers, sensing a resurgence in the national economy, felt confident that they would find another job in short order.

But that was before the nation's fledgling economic recovery began flagging, which begs the question: Are workers -- even professionals with college degrees and decent salaries -- willing to quit before they have another job lined up? It's too soon to say. But for those workers ready to tell their bosses to "take this job and shove it," summer is quickly coming to a close. Labor Day is just two weeks away.

Pay Increases on The Horizon

The other 60% of workers who intend to stick it out may soon find that they will be rewarded for doing so. Separate surveys recently conducted by workplace consultancies Towers Watson (TW) and Mercer showed an overwhelming number of employers intend to boost pay next year.

Towers Watson's survey showed companies anticipate merit raises of 2.7% in 2011, slightly ahead of the 2.3% uptick many employees saw this year, according to the survey of more than 1,000 U.S. companies. Moreover, only a small percentage of employers -- 5% -- expect to freeze salaries next year. That's down from 12% this year and 32% in 2009.

Mercer's 2010/2011 U.S. Compensation Planning Survey showed that more than 98% of companies plan to award base-pay increases in 2011, with just 2% of companies planning across-the-board salary freezes next year, compared to 13% in 2010 and 31% in 2009.

Of the employers projecting to grant base-pay increases, Mercer said the average increase is expected to be 2.9%.