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Where Will You Be Working?

Tom PattonOne of the organizations I follow on Twitter is Rassmussen Polls.

Anybody who’s spent any time at all trying to figure out anything political probably has a half dozen or more polling organizations bookmarked, but Twitter allows me to just see their headlines at a glance, which is darned convenient.

Tuesday, one of the headlines was, to me, a little surprising.

44% of workers say they expect to be with current employer for five more years or longer.

Nearly half of the people surveyed thought they would be working for the same company in five years. That represents an optimism I thought we’d lost.

Digging deeper into the poll, only 6 percent of those surveyed thought they would have a new employer in a year. 17% expect to work for the same company for more than a year, but less than five. Meanwhile, 60% said they’d been with the same employer for 5 years.

While the analysis from Rassmussen interpreted the numbers as “only” 44 percent expected to be with the same company, my reaction is “wow … 44% expect to be with the same company.”

People don’t work like they used to. Talking with professional recruiters and resume writers at length over the past 9 months, moving from job to job is not considered as much of a stigma any longer. Large gaps in employment can be problematic, but the old paradigm of going to work “at the plant” for 35 or 40 years and retiring with a gold watch and a pension are long gone. For those who choose civil service at some level it might still apply, but in the private sector… not so much.

I don’t know of anyone, really, who doesn’t wonder if the layoff axe might fall tomorrow, or on Friday, which seems to be the favored day. What a great way to start the weekend, yes?

Even though those of us who have hung out a shingle and are trying to make a living in bits and pieces don’t know when that big client might not just decide that our services are no longer needed. Goodness knows in a right to work state like Florida, nearly everyone serves at the pleasure of their employer, who has the right to let you go with no real cause just like you have the right to leave. Human resources seem to have become a commodity, FTE’s to be moved around on piece of paper to make the numbers come out right. It’s become almost as impersonal as the hiring process, where character scanners coldly survey your resume and cover letter for certain keywords, and a computer pretty much determines who makes the first cut in a lot of places. Having recently ridden that roller-coaster, let’s just say it’s a very difficult ride.

And that may be what is coloring my take on this poll. For people who walk through the door every day wondering if this will be the day they find their services are no longer needed, it seems darned optimistic for 44% of people to think that they’ll be with the same employer in 5 years.

Of course, this time last year, I’d have said it with confidence. Now, not so much.

The employment market has drastically changed in the past year. I don’t think anyone would deny that. The survey does not ask if those same people who think they’ll be at those jobs in 5 years will be making the same money, more, or less. Compensation packages are being cut everywhere as companies try to maintain something resembling profits, and even (or maybe especially) non-profits are reducing hours, services, and salaries.

If you’re among those 44%, congratulations. I hope I haven’t cast a pall on your commute to work today. There’s a lot to be said for the comfort of believing your job is secure. Because once that’s gone, it’s very, very difficult to get back.


From the shameless promotions department… my guest this afternoon on The Jacksonville Observer Radio Show will be Financial Planner Ron Allen. We’ll talk about the economy, money, investments, running a business, and there will be a couple of surprises as well. Join us at 5:00 on ABC1320, WBOB.

1 Responses »

  1. Many companies are now trying to reverse the trend of employees jumping ship to a better opportunity. They are improving benefits & employee perks, especially those that don't cost a lot, but help improve moral & trust. & some of them have learned, painfully, about the costs of replacing a work force, even if they have their choice of the pickings out in the employee pool.