Survey: Half of Workers Just Don't Care

Last Updated Jun 22, 2011 9:13 AM EDT

You know those people who sit on either side of you at the department meeting every week? Chances are one of the three of you is looking for another job, or at least seriously thinking about it. And another 21 percent of your co-workers probably show little interest in their jobs, even though they aren't planning to leave. At least part of the blame can be placed at the feet of stingy compensation packages, which aren't making employees as happy as they once did.

That's the news from the latest installment of Mercer's What's Working survey, which shows that from an employee point of view, not much is. All the measures commonly used to get a bead on employee engagement have been declining over the past few years, and steadily increasing numbers of employees are looking to change jobs.

First, the folks who say they're 'seriously considering leaving' their jobs:
  • Overall, 32 percent of workers say they're ready to go.
  • The malaise is most pronounced amongst the youngest workers--those aged 16-24. Some 44 percent of those folks have got one eye--if not two--on the door.
  • As employees get older, they're more likely to stay put. Of those who are 25 to 34 years old, 40 percent say they're seriously considering leaving. But even among the oldest age group (those 55 to 64 years old) 24 percent say they're seriously considering leaving.
Not caring, but not leaving, either
It's hard enough to be committed to your job when you're ready to leave it. But for employers, the even worse news might be that an additional 21 percent of workers view their employers very unfavorably and have what Mercer calls "rock bottom" scores on engagement--measures of how much they care about their jobs, their work, and their employer. Among those:
  • Only half say they have been treated fairly by their company
  • Only 46 percent would recommend their organization as a good place to work.
  • Only 29 percent believe that the organization is well-managed
In most cases, the scores for this group are even worse than they are for the employees who are seriously considering leaving their jobs. In other words, employers are facing a core group of disaffected employees, and unless they can figure out exactly who they are and then either re-engage them or get rid of them, they're stuck with them.

"The business consequences of this erosion in employee sentiment are significant, and clearly the issue goes far beyond retention," said Mindy Fox, a senior partner at Mercer and the firm's US Region Leader. "Diminished loyalty and widespread apathy can undermine business performance, particularly as companies increasingly look to their workforces to drive productivity gains and spur innovation."

Part of employees' dissatisfaction may stem from the long-lasting recession and the fact that employees don't believe their jobs are necessarily providing them with the salary, benefits, and security they need.


  • Retirement worries loom large. Only 43 percent of employees say they're doing enough to prepare for retirement. That's down from 47 percent in 2005.
  • Benefits programs don't get the raves they once did. Some 68 percent of employees say their benefits are good or very good, down from 76 percent in 2005.
  • Health care in particular is seen as less generous. Only 59 percent are satisfied with their health benefits, down from 66 percent.
  • Pay isn't great either. Just 53 percent are satisfied with their base pay, down from 58 percent in 2005.

Do you have one eye on the door? Or does the person sitting next to you?

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Image courtesy of flickr user markhillary

Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant. Follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/weisul.


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    Kimberly Weisul is the co-founder of One Thing New, the free email newsletter for smart, busy women. She was previously Senior Editor at BusinessWeek, responsible for all coverage of entrepreneurship and for launching BusinessWeek SmallBiz, a bimonthly magazine. She is also a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant.

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