Human Capital & Careers

Few Workers Worry about Offshoring: Survey

Only 8 percent of U.S. workers are concerned about losing their jobs via offshoring, according to a new survey. But 85 percent think the trend has ...
Stephen TaubAugust 10, 2004

By definition, outsourcing involves using individuals from another company to perform tasks.

Yet most workers and managers don’t believe their jobs are in jeopardy if their companies choose to ship tasks overseas, according to a new survey.

Just 8 percent of roughly 1,200 U.S. workers surveyed by Watson Wyatt are “strongly concerned” that their own jobs are at risk. And just 6 percent of hourly and clerical workers are “strongly concerned” that their jobs are threatened.

Their bosses are not too concerned either. Just 7 percent of senior management and supervisory workers are “strongly concerned.”

Now, this is not to say that workers are apathetic to the offshoring trend. In fact, 85 percent of the respondents said they believe offshoring has a negative impact on the U.S. economy. They’re just not concerned it will affect their jobs.

“Although American workers, in general, are very concerned about the impact of offshoring on the economy, they apparently have little concern offshoring will affect them personally,” said Bruce Pfau, national practice director for organization effectiveness at Watson Wyatt. “Nevertheless, the degree of this confidence seems to vary somewhat by employee job role.”

Indeed, the largest group of those who expressed concern (among four groups segmented in the survey) are professional and technical non-management workers; 13 percent of them are “strongly concerned” they will lose their jobs due to offshoring.

When asked if they were worried “to some extent” or a “small extent,” the responses ranged from 15 percent of management to 30 percent of professional and technical workers.

Meanwhile, in a separate, informal Watson Wyatt survey of 33 multinational organizations — the majority of which have already offshored some functions — 65 percent found offshoring to be effective in lowering production costs, and 61 percent said it improves operational efficiency.

However, regarding offshoring’s impact on marketplace image, customer satisfaction, and human-resources management costs, most respondents report a neutral effect or say that it is simply too early to tell.

“Together, these two surveys highlight the uncertainty that continues to surround the long-term effects of offshoring,” said Robert Wesselkamper, practice director of international consulting services at Watson Wyatt. “The huge gap between employer trends and employees’ perceptions will have to narrow at some point. Whether this will come in the form of a slowdown in offshoring, perhaps due to government intervention, or a change in employees’ perception remains to be seen.”

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