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Stress, Loyalty and the Job Market

August 22 2006 - A recent survey of American workers found them greatly looking forward to Labor Day weekend at the beginning of September. Nearly one-third said they are working longer hours and suffering more stress than the same time last year.

The North America 2006 Labor Day Survey was conducted by Adecco, a leading workforce services organization, as part of its ongoing Workplace Insights series. Based on telephone interviews with 1015 adults (509 women and 506 men) in full-time employment, it also explored other issues of relevance to workers, such as employer loyalty and the state of the job market.

The survey's key findings include:

  • Not working 9-to-5 - 29 per cent of respondents claim they are working longer hours than in a comparable period last year, with 32 per cent saying that they are experiencing more on-the-job stress.
  • What loyalty gap? - 75 per cent of workers say that they are 'very' or 'quite' loyal to their employers, while 53 per cent believe their company is 'very' or 'quite' loyal in return. This finding runs counter to a common perception that loyalty in the workplace is a thing of the past.
  • Mixed views on the job market - 45 per cent of respondents say the current state of employment in America is 'mixed', 24 per cent are optimistic that the job market is strengthening, while 22 per cent see job growth as 'erratic and minimal'.

The survey identifies three current issues of major concern to American workers:

  • being able to retire comfortably
  • the rising cost of healthcare
  • a stagnant paycheck.

Ray Roe, president of Adecco North America said:

"Although unemployment remains very low, American workers are feeling pressure from many other forces this Labor Day. Rising energy prices, soaring healthcare costs, the cooling housing market and retirement concerns are impacting the psyche of the American workforce today, and companies should be aware that these pressures may be affecting their workers."

Adecco's media release suggests some ways in which organizations could show their appreciation and acknowledge the pressures employees have identified:

  • "A thank you card (for gas!)- Reward top performers with a gas card to help them save at the pump. It's a thoughtful and timely way to say "thank you", and they can probably use it during the holiday weekend.
  • "Acknowledge loyalty- Acknowledging an employee's loyalty to your company can go a long way. You can celebrate anniversaries as a way of showing appreciation for their dedication and service. These celebrations can be as simple as delivering a "happy anniversary" message to someone's workspace from their boss, or highlighting their anniversary on the company intranet with a mention of a recent achievement and a word of appreciation.
  • "Institute Y-D-Os- Overworked and stressed seem to be a mantra across office parks and corporate campuses these days. To show appreciation when your employees go above and beyond the call of duty, and to ensure they have a chance to recharge after a gruelling week or month, institute Y-D-Os, or "Your Day Off". These can be offered at a manager's discretion, but shows employees you truly appreciate their effort and want them to come back to work rested and ready to go."

Roe continued:

"Labor Day is a holiday to honor workers. It's a perfect opportunity for companies to show some impromptu appreciation for their workforce and celebrate them in any way they can."

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