Employees in U.S. Aren't Very Happy

'Diminished loyalty and widespread apathy can undermine business performance, particularly as companies increasingly look to their workforces to drive productivity gains and spur innovation,' new Mercer survey says.

Is it a serious risk to your business if half of your workforce either is looking to leave your company or has checked out mentally while on the job?

"The business consequences of this erosion in employee sentiment are significant, and clearly the issue goes far beyond retention," said Mindy Fox, Mercer's U.S. Region Leader. "Diminished loyalty and widespread apathy can undermine business performance, particularly as companies increasingly look to their workforces to drive productivity gains and spur innovation."

Mercer's new "What's Working" survey, conducted over the past two quarters among nearly 30,000 workers in 17 countries -- including 2,400 workers in the United States -- found that one in three (32%) workers is seriously considering leaving his or her organization at the present time, up sharply from 23% in 2005.

Meanwhile, another 21% are not looking to leave but view their employers unfavorably and have rock-bottom scores on key measures of engagement, a term that describes a combination of an employee's loyalty, commitment and motivation.

Highlight of the report include:

  • Only 43% of employees believe they are doing enough to financially prepare for retirement -- down from 47% in 2005, and just 41% believe their employers are doing enough to help them prepare, up slightly from 38%.
  • 68% of employees rate their overall benefits program as good or very good, down from 76% in 2005, while 59% say they are satisfied with their health care benefits, down from 66%.
  • Base pay is the most important element of the employment deal, by a wide margin, but workers show lower satisfaction with base pay (53% satisfied, down from 58% in 2005).
  • Despite improvements, scores for career development and performance management remain low. Just 42% of employees today agree that promotions go to the most qualified employees in their organization, up from 29% in 2005, and 46% agree that their organization does an adequate job of matching pay to performance, up from 33%.
  • The youngest workers most likely to be eyeing a departure -- 40% of employees age 2534 and 44% of employees 24 and younger.

Jason Jeffay, a global Leader of Mercer's talent management consulting, said, "Without question, employers face significant challenges in raising engagement, but they can be overcome by making the right trade-offs and investments in the employment deal, while enhancing leadership skills and managerial effectiveness on the front line."

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