Survey: U.S. Job Seekers 'Searching For Rewards Beyond Salary'

By Agence France-Presse U.S. workers are switching loyalties away from employers who have announced 1.13 million job cuts since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, an industry survey showed. As their faith in big companies erodes and their priorities change, people are switching to jobs for fulfillment more than pay, says global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. "Six months after the attacks workers are searching for rewards beyond salary," says the firm's CEO, John Challenger. "They show a greater desire for jobs that are meaningful and relevant and that fit into their newly rearranged life priorities and they are willing to take calculated risks, even prolong unemployment, in order to find the ideal situation." Indeed, job searches lengthened by 64% as both employers and job seekers took a more cautious approach. The proportion of people switching from one industry to another surged 45% and the number of job seekers winning equivalent or better salaries fell to a 15-year low. "The trends indicated by this survey could have a significant impact on corporate America as everything gets turned upside down," says Challenger. "High-paying professions that were once coveted by job seekers may now lose people to lower paying positions that provide more job security, more flexibility, greater personal or emotional satisfaction and are perceived as making a more meaningful contribution to society." The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 5.5% in February from 5.6% the previous month as job numbers expanded by 66,000, capping a barrage of bullish news this month. But Challenger says a sharp rebound in employment is unlikely. "A quick hiring rebound is unlikely, since employers generally wait for a broad economic recovery to take hold before boosting payrolls again," says Challenger. "For many, Sept. 11 was a wake-up call. There is a greater willingness to accept lower pay if it means greater flexibility to balance work and family. It reminded a lot of people about the importance of friends and family over career," says Challenger. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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