I was speaking with a young salesman the other day and he mentioned that he had been trying to find his father a job. His father had been a 25-year employee of an IW 100 manufacturer - and had risen to be a plant manager. Forced to take an early retirement package a few years back, he has been unable to find a similar position since then - too old, wrong skill set, etc.
Those anecdotal experiences we all have encountered are reflected in the 2010 Global Workforce Study conducted by Towers Watson, the professional services company. Gone is the go-go, job-hopping, move up the ladder attitude of the past couple decades. After a withering recession, workers are looking for stability and security.
The study finds that 80% of employees want to settle into a job and roughly half say they want to work for a single company their entire career, while the rest want to work for no more than two or three companies. Towers Watson says the return to workplace "nesting" is influenced by a perceived dearth of job opportunities and a lower appetite for the risks inherent in changing jobs.
Even though half the respondents said they see no career advancement opportunities at their current company, 81% said they are not actively looking for another job. And when asked what factors they were looking for in a preferred job, 86% chose a "secure and stable position" while 74% chose "substantially higher levels of compensation."
"The recession has clearly prompted many employees to rethink their priorities and focus on a longer-term commitment to their employer in return for some semblance of job security - despite the cuts or elimination of many programs, from bonuses to training, traditionally used as retention tools," comments Laura Sejen, a leader in the company's Talent & Rewards business. "Where once employers fretted over a 'war for talent,' they must now plan for a workforce that appears ready to settle in for years - perhaps even decades."
Even as employees seek more security, Sejen says employers must find ways to help their workers become more self-reliant. That means providing them tools and training to understand and cope with these issues. Employers will also have to manage a log jam of aging Baby Boomers, she warns, while addressing the needs of younger employees who want to rise through the organization.
The old safety net simply doesn't exist and employees, whether they like it or not, will need to manager their careers, their health and their finances - or suffer the consequences.