Employment Catch 22

by Erik Sorenson, Vault CEO | July 07, 2009

  • My Vault

Last week welearned that the U.S. Economy lost another 467,000 jobs in June driving up theunemployment rate to 9.5%.  That'sthe highest percentage of jobless Americans in 26 years.  We also found out that wages arefalling for those still with jobs. The combination will likely dampen consumer spending even further – potentiallyperpetuating what is an ugly, vicious cycle that could lead to still morecorporate retrenching.

For the90.5% of us who are still employed, it is tempting to celebrate our goodfortune.  Though our bonuses mayhave disappeared and our paycheck may be skinnier, at least we still have ourjob, right?  That's worthcelebrating – or least acknowledging with a little gratitude.  But there's a catch.

Survivors inthe American workforce are working harder than ever.   We were already one of the world's hardest drivingworkforces and the current economy is extending that "leadershipposition."   We are alldoing more for less and it's happened pretty quickly.  As managers, we experience the double-whammy of workingharder ourselves and demanding ever more effort from our troops.  While companies have cut jobs, theyhaven't cut the overall work-load and in some cases, they have even increasedit.

Asemployees, we're getting pushed hard but the alternative (resigning; acceptinga buyout) is generally worse.  Asbosses, we are pushing hard because we're getting pressure from above andbecause we know it's a buyer's market and we have our employees "trapped."  Even Millenials - previouslypigeon-holed as "entitled and less productive" – seem to be steppingup to the plate of the New Reality.

I overhearda conversation in the elevator recently. Two 20-something's who work in the fashion industry were talking about afriend at a well-known fashion brand. "She is slavin'," said one Millenial to the other.  "She is really slavin'!" (Apparently "slavin'" is the new slang for being driven towork really hard – as in "slave.")  

The second20-something replied, "Well if she's slavin', why doesn't she justquit?"

To which thefirst Millenial correctly pointed out: "In this economy?  Areyou kidding?"

Welcome tothe New Normal.

 

 

Filed Under: Workplace Issues

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