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January 28, 2009
In Economic Crisis, Employees Shift Focus On Pay
A new survey finds that in this time of economic angst and high unemployment, many employees are shifting their focus when it comes to compensation.

In the Towers Perrin survey, employees were asked about the factors that were most important to their work experience. The top choice in the December survey was “secure position they can count on for the long term.” The second most popular choice was having adequate benefit protection for themselves and their families.

In a survey conducted just 4 months earlier, one of the top five priorities identified by employees was to “maximize earnings.” In the most recent survey, however, this fell out of the top five, a reflection of the times and on what Towers Perrin says is a shift among employees from maximizing career advancement and incentive opportunities to securing basic pay and benefit packages.

“Obviously, people care tremendously about income during a period like this,” noted Emmett Seaborn, a Towers Perrin principal in a press release. “But the emphasis shifts, from maximizing it to stabilizing it. Today’s workforce is quite sophisticated. People know the stability of their income depends on the stability of their company. They’re willing to give in the short term, to get in the longer term. That’s why we actually see less dissatisfaction with pay during periods like this. It’s part of an implicit agreement that we’ll weather the storm together, and the rewards will come later.”

This sentiment is also evident in that, for the first time, employee-respondents identified “working for a successful organization with a strong future” as one of the top five factors most important to their work in the December survey. Towers Perrin says that this trend underscores “that sense of shared destiny” among employees toward their employers.

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