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September 02, 2008
What Has American Workers Worried (and What Can Be Done)?
The vast majority--81 percent--of American workers are worried about something job-related, according to a new survey. What's keeping them up at night? And what can you do about it?

The Adecco USA Workplace Insights survey found that job-related worries have shifted considerably since one year ago. For example, in 2007, 16 percent of respondents reported that a "stagnant paycheck" was their number one concern regarding their job. That figure dropped slightly in 2008 to 13 percent. But this likely isn't because fewer workers are worried about their paychecks--it's because more workers are primarily concerned with high gas prices, which was cited as the number one concern for workers in 2008. Twenty-five percent of respondents said high gas prices was their top job-related concern, compared to just 12 percent in 2007.

  • Other job-related worries revealed in the survey were:
  • Work-life balance 12% (down from 16% in 2007)
  • The rising cost of health care 9% (12% in 2007)
  • Job market 7% (4% in 2007)
  • Opportunities for advancement 6% (12% in 2007)
  • Outsourcing of jobs 4% (3% in 2007)
  • Other 5% (6% in 2007)

Other significant findings from the Adecco survey include that just 1 in 4 workers claim to currently be saving in case they lose their jobs, while most (58 percent) say they have no intention of putting such money aside.

Also, the survey results indicate that fewer workers feel that they are appreciated at work. In 2007, 91 percent of respondents said they felt "very" or "somewhat" appreciated in the office, but only 75 percent of respondents felt the same way in 2008.

"It's clear that our current economic uncertainty has spread similar feelings of uncertainty to American workers," chief career officer for Adecco, Bernadette Kenny, said in a press release announcing the survey results. "Workers need to think about how they can best prepare and position themselves for success in the current marketplace and employers who are focused on retaining their top talent should implement ways to show their appreciation and ease the concerns weighing on the minds of their staff."

Adecco recommended three ways that employers can minimize worker worries and increase feelings of appreciation among staff: First they suggested that employers be open and honest with staff--keeping them informed regarding "what's happening to respond to the current business environment." Adecco also says employers should "communicated frequently and be as transparent as possible" to calm worker's concerns

Second, they said that employers should actively gain feedback of your staff through surveys, company-wide meetings or one-on-one conversations, then "develop your plans based on their feedback." Finally, they suggested that employers "Institute quick wins" by finding ways to address the top concern among their employees--for example, if gas prices are the top concern of staff, employers might think about "offering the ability to work from home or providing top performers with the occasional gas card to show your appreciation." Organizations whose employees are primarily concerned with work/life balance may want to "[p]rovide more flex-time and formalize your offerings."

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