Job Hunting

Insecurities About Job Security

Three new surveys paint a bleak picture as executives and workers fret about keeping and finding jobs.
Lisa YoonMarch 26, 2003

As the economy continues to flounder, more executives worry about job security.

That’s one of the main findings of a recent survey conducted by executive-career resource ExecuNet. A startling 68 percent of the 1,185 executives surveyed express concern about retaining their current job, mostly for reasons beyond their control. For example, 23 percent attribute their insecurity to their companies’ uncertain prospects; 20 percent cite possible merger, downsizing, or reorganization; and 16 percent blame a dreary industry outlook.

Furthermore, faith in employee and employer loyalty programs seems to be waning as executives expect job turnover to increase. Of the executives polled, 72 percent have had three or more jobs in the past 10 years. Asked how long they expect to stay in their next job, seven percent say less than two years; 33 percent figure two to three years; 29 percent project a four to five year stint; and 30 percent think their next job will last longer than five years.

The results of another ExecuNet survey, aimed at employment recruiters, apparently is in line with the seven percent of executives that don’t expect to hold their next job for more than two years. The second survey, that polled 323 recruiters, reveals that 18 percent of executives do not survive their first year in a new job.

Lower down the career ladder real pessimism takes hold. According to a global survey of job-confidence levels by organizational-management firm Right Management Consultants, 26.6 percent of American workers believe they could lose their job in the coming year.

That’s down from Right Management’s December survey that reported one out of five American workers believed his or her job was in jeopardy. Only workers in Great Britain (27.5 percent) have bleaker outlooks.

“We are seeing a new level of pessimism among American workers,” observed Richard J. Pinola, Righ Management’s CEO. “The stalled economy, flat business prospects and months of uncertainty about the prospects of war are taking their toll.”

Indeed, 79 percent of Americans expect unemployment to rise in the coming year, up from 77 percent who predicted the same in December. A whopping 83 percent of workers say it would be difficult for a laid-off employee to find similar-paying work, an expectation that remains unchanged from December.

More troubling is how employees perceive advancement opportunities. According to the survey, half think it is possible to move up within their company; half do not. “That is not good news for employers,” remarks Pinola. “Especially in difficult times, it is imperative that high-performing employees feel they have the opportunity, the coaching, and the tools to develop within their companies.” Otherwise, he explains, those high performers won’t be there when things turn around.

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