by Tim Lohman

Employee stress, workloads, insecurity up in the recession: Hudson

Aug 26, 2009

A new report from recruitment company Hudson has reinforced what most of us take for granted: recessions make staff nervous.

The Talent Tightrope: Managing the Workplace through the Downturn report, which surveyed 2,394 employees and 247 employers across Australia and New Zealand, found fears around job security are running fairly high.

Some 37 per cent of IT employees responding to the survey say they afraid of losing their jobs, and 48 per cent feel their job is less secure than the same time last year.

Unsurprisingly, stress levels are running high with 55 per cent of employees agreeing their workplace has become much more stressful since the downturn.

In line with this, staff morale has taken a dive with 49 per cent of employees believing the morale of fellow workers has declined, the report found.

There would seem to be a disconnect between employers and employees, however, as to the full impact of the recession on employees – 26 per cent of employers believe morale has improved since the recession but only 7 per cent of employees think the same.

“In every aspect of current workplace sentiment, whether job satisfaction, motivation, morale, perceived stress levels or job security, employers are clearly unaware of their employees’ frame of mind,” CEO at Hudson ANZ, Mark Steynsaid, in a statement on the report’s findings.

“While most employees are not blind to commercial realities and the need of their employers to cut costs and implement rapid change, discontent is brewing.”

Suggesting that staff cuts are starting to take a toll on workers, a third of those surveyed said that their workload had increased since the global financial crisis hit.

Either that, or staff are taking on higher workloads to appear more useful out of fear for their job with 48 per cent of employers reporting that they have also observed greater productivity from employees.

Employees are also increasingly willing to compromise in order to stay employed, the report finds, with 39 per cent of respondees saying they would accept a pay freeze, 32 per cent would take a reduction or loss of a bonus and 17 per cent would consider a pay cut.

On the positive side, the report found that the outlook of the majority of Australian and New Zealand companies was cautiously optimistic, with 68 per cent of employers believing their business would survive the downturn relatively unscathed.

Some 38 per cent of companies said the downturn would make their business stronger and 61 per cent think the economy will soon begin to recover and business will pick up within 18 months.

Employees have also realised the value of the jobs they do have – 61 per cent of Baby Boomers, 57 per cent of Gen Xs and 53 per cent of Gen Ys say they now value their jobs more than before the downturn.