Despite recent market volatility and unfavorable labor statistics, second quarter employee confidence over job security, pay raises and the job market has returned to levels last seen in the height of the recession.
At the same time, nearly one-third (30 percent) of employees report they are more satisfied in their jobs today than one year ago compared to 26 percent in the second quarter of 2010 although one in four (25 percent) say their satisfaction is worse, according to the Q2 Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey of 2,203 U.S. adults conducted by Harris Interactive.
The higher rate of job satisfaction may be tied to fewer employer-initiated cutbacks in recent quarters. In the second quarter, 41 percent of employees reported their company made changes to compensation, bonus, healthcare benefits and other perks(3), down from 54 percent in the second quarter of 2009.
Among those employees whose company made changes, reports of layoffs fell three points from the first quarter to 40 percent – the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2008 when the survey began – and 29 percent of employees reported hiring freezes, down from 34 percent in the first quarter.
The number of employees reporting changes to their individual pay or bonus amount is relatively flat from the first quarter (28 percent vs. 29 percent), however, reports of furloughs and unpaid leaves are up slightly from last quarter (19 percent vs. 14 percent). More employees in the West (33 percent) reported furloughs than those in the Northeast (20 percent), South (11 percent) or Midwest (7 percent).
It's clear that the psyche of American workers has been measurably shaken as a result of recent discouraging economic reports. While company layoffs have abated in recent months, employees may be preparing themselves for what they think will be another round of belt-tightening if the economy doesn't improve.
Employees are more pessimistic about the future employment market than we've seen in awhile, which is a larger issue for the economy as employment confidence ultimately is reflected in consumer confidence, said Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor career and workplace expert, who ran global HR departments at Electronic Arts and PepsiCo before co-authoring Talent Force: A New Manifesto for the Human Side of Business. As job creation has stalled and unemployment remains high, it's no surprise to see this pessimism also extend to recent and the chronically unemployed job seekers.
The Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey highlights four key indicators of employee confidence in the areas of job market/re-hire probability, job security, pay raises, and company outlook. The second quarter also looked at employee job satisfaction. Highlights for the second quarter are summarized below:
Job Security or Lay Offs:
Employees are more concerned about potential layoffs in the next six months than in recent quarters. Layoff concerns edged up five points this quarter to 22 percent from 17 percent, which is the highest level since the third quarter of 2009. Layoff concerns are highest among those that live in the West (29 percent) and lowest in the Midwest (16 percent). Concern for coworker layoffs is also up from the first quarter to 34 percent from 30 percent, and up three percentage points from the year-ago quarter (31 percent). Coworker layoff concerns are highest among employees in the West (41 percent) and Northeast (35 percent) compared to Midwest (30 percent) and South (30 percent).
Employee pessimism regarding pay raises increased in the second quarter. Nearly half (48 percent) of employees report they do not expect a pay raise in the next 12 months, which is the highest level seen in six quarters. Slightly more than one-third (36 percent) of employees expect a pay raise in the next year, down four points since the second quarter 2010 (40 percent) and relatively flat from the first quarter (35 percent). One-sixth of employees (16 percent) are unsure, down four points from the first quarter (20 percent). Men continue to be more optimistic regarding pay raises: 40 percent expect an increase in the coming year as compared to 32 percent of women. Optimism for a pay increase is higher in the West (45 percent) than the Midwest (40 percent), Northeast (34 percent) or South (28 percent).
Pessimism about the job market grew during the second quarter among employees (including those self-employed) and those unemployed but looking. Nearly one-third (31 percent) of employees and those self-employed believe it is unlikely they would be able to find a job matched to their experience and compensation levels in six months if they lost theirs, up four points from the first quarter (28 percent), and on par with the year-ago quarter (31 percent in the second quarter of 2010). Those who believe it is likely they could find a job has edged down to 39 percent, compared to 40 percent in the first quarter of 2010, while 28 percent are uncertain they could find a job. Younger workers 18-34 (46 percent) are more optimistic they could find a comparable job in the next six months than those aged 55+ (32 percent), but this optimism among younger workers has dropped four points from the first quarter. Just one in four (25 percent) of those unemployed but looking believe they will be able to find a job in the next six months, which is down from last quarter (28 percent) to the lowest level since the second quarter of 2009.
Employee attitudes about their company's near-term outlook remained flat this quarter. Nearly half (48 percent) of those employed full time, part time and/or self-employed expect their company's outlook to stay about the same in the next six months while 40 percent expect the outlook to improve, revealing less optimism than reported in the year-ago quarter (45 percent). More than one in 10 (13 percent) expect their company's outlook to get worse in the next six months, which is relatively flat from the first quarter (12 percent). Men continue to be more optimistic regarding their company outlook although the gender gap has narrowed. In the second quarter, 42 percent of men noted they expect their company outlook to be better in the next six months compared to 36 percent of women. In the first quarter, 50 percent of men believed their company's outlook would be better while just 28 percent of women expected outlook to improve.
Employee satisfaction has grown over the past year: 30 percent of employees are more satisfied with their job than this time last year compared to 26 percent in the second quarter of 2010. More men (34 percent) report their satisfaction is now better than women (26 percent). Overall, one in four employees (25 percent) note their satisfaction is worse now than this time last year. Employees in the West are more satisfied than other regions: 40 percent compared to 33 percent in the South, 29 percent in the Midwest and 19 percent in the Northeast.
For more details and methodology of the survey, please see the full Q2 2011 Glassdoor Confidence Survey Summary and Methodology, http://www.glassdoor.com/press/surveys.