Job security tops employee wish-lists during recession

Staff have returned to basics during the recession, citing stability and security as the most important aspects of employment, research has revealed.

The Global Workforce Study of 20,000 employees, by professional services company Towers Watson, found that, when asked to rate what is most important for them in their jobs, 81% of employees said stability and security was the most crucial aspect.

But only 43% believed their current organisation was able to offer a secure and stable position.

This desire for stability and security was also met with a preference to work for between one and three organisations only, during an entire working life.

The survey found that 72% of respondents want to work for only one to three organisations throughout their careers, with 35% of them wanting to work for only one company.

Just 12% of respondents were actively seeking another job.

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Interview with Nick Tatchell

The senior consultant talks to Personnel Today about workers’ desire for stability and security, and the implications this has for employers.

Listen to the full interview (6.09 minutes)

Nick Tatchell, a senior consultant at Towers Watson, told Personnel Today: “The recession has reminded people of some of the fundamentals of what they desire from work, and that is security and stability.

“This puts paid to the concept of the free agent, that employees will be very committed to an organisation but for a very short space of time, and then quite quickly will look to move on somewhere else.”

But Tatchell warned that it could take years for this desire to subside and, in return for their loyalty, staff expected a similar level of commitment from their employers – but here there was “a disconnect”.

Tatchell said: “People seem to want to embed themselves more in an organisation and really make a commitment to their organisation, but in return they are very much expecting their organisation to make a commitment back to them, and certainly the findings suggest that the deal isn’t quite as strong as perhaps it could be.”

Other survey findings

  • 53% defined career advancement in terms of acquiring new skills
  • 37% said it was about moving up a well-defined career path
  • 71% rated trustworthiness as the most important attribute of senior business leaders
  • 62% cited care about the well-being of others
  • 56% said being highly visible to employees
  • 50% said encouraging the development of employees.
He added: “The ‘deal’ that once existed between employees and employers is dying, having been mortally wounded by this recession.”

The survey of staff across 22 countries found that nearly one-third (30%) of workers felt that their organisations had not treated employees fairly in the past 12 months, while only 39% believed their senior leaders were trustworthy.

More than half of respondents (53%) felt there were no career advancement opportunities for them at their firm.

Tatchell said that with more staff wanting to stay in organisations for longer there was also a risk that disengaged workers would be retained, while high potentials left to seek other opportunities.

The survey revealed that 48% of high potentials would consider another job if it presented itself – compared to 35% among other employees.

He said: “There’s a risk of the cream of the crop being more likely to move on and the more disengaged people staying around.”

Tatchell added that where there was little scope for promotions, employers should offer staff mentoring schemes and encourage horizontal moves across the business to help them acquire new skills and experiences.

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