How Low Can Workers' Morale Go?

worker morale It appears that the economy has left the American worker both shaken and stirred. Despite recent minor dips in unemployment and blips in job growth, a recent survey found that employee confidence -- when it comes to job security, pay raises and the job market -- has fallen to levels last seen in the height of the recession.

According to the Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey conducted by Harris Interactive, employees are more concerned about potential layoffs for themselves and their co-workers in the next six months than in recent quarters. Those worries seem to be highest in the West and lowest in the Midwest and South.

"It's clear that the psyche of American workers has been measurably shaken as a result of recent discouraging economic reports," said Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor career and workplace expert and co-author of "Talent Force: A New Manifesto for the Human Side of Business."

"As job creation has stalled and unemployment remains high," Rueff says, "it's no surprise to see this pessimism also extend to recent and the chronically unemployed job seekers."

Indeed, the survey revealed that pessimism about the job market is growing. Just one in four of those unemployed and looking for work believe that they will be able to find a job in the next six months, which is down to the lowest level since the second quarter of 2009.

Nearly one-third of those who are employed by others, or self-employed, believe it is unlikely that they would be able to find a job matched to their experience and compensation levels within six months, if they lost theirs. However, younger workers aged 18 to 34 are more optimistic they could find a comparable job in the next six months than those aged 55-plus.

The survey also found that nearly half (48 percent) of employees do not expect a pay raise in the next 12 months, but for some reason, men are more optimistic about pay raises than women: 40 percent of the men surveyed expect an increase in the coming year as compared to 32 percent of the women.

Still, all is not lost. According to the survey, the American worker is not completely miserable and without hope. In fact, nearly one-third (30 percent) of employees report that they are more satisfied in their jobs today than one year ago, although optimism among men is again higher than it is among women. Oddly enough, employees in the West, where the job market is worst, are more satisfied than other regions.

That higher rate of job satisfaction may be tied to fewer employer-initiated cutbacks in recent quarters. Or it could be that people are just grateful to be working these days, and are more satisfied with a job -- any job.

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