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10 Years After: Employees Feel More Confident and Respected Post-Recession


There has been a distinct shift in employee attitudes toward their workplaces in the 10 years since the start of the Great Recession.

A Korn Ferry analysis of more than 1 million employees in about 180 companies shows both positive and negative trends from 2008-2018.

The analysis found that employees are 28% more likely today than in 2008 to believe that their immediate managers support their development, and are 15% more likely to report their organizations demonstrate care and concern for employees.

Employees also feel more confident in the future, as they are 17% more likely today than in 2008 to believe their companies will be successful during the next two to three years.

On the flip side, employees have stronger negative opinions today on several issues:

Pay and Benefits
Compared to 10 years ago, workers today are 15% less likely to agree that the benefits their companies offer are competitive, and they are 4% less likely to think their pay is fair compared to people doing similar jobs in other companies.

“Back in 2008, many workers may have been happy just to be employed, given the mass layoffs at that time,” said Korn Ferry Senior Principal Mark Royal. “But today, with the tight labor market, employees have choices and may leave if they feel they can be better compensated elsewhere.”  

Training and Performance Management
Compared to 10 years ago, employees today are 10% less likely to experience strong cross-team support within the company and 11% less likely to believe that decisions are made at the lowest level appropriate.   

“Today’s organizations run much leaner and unfortunately, managers are sometimes too strapped with their own workloads to address the needs of their employees,” Royal said. “Over the past 10 years, there has also been a shift from hierarchal management to flatter, more interdependent working environments. It’s important that organizations understand the implications this has on managing employees.”

Career Paths and Workload Issues
Though the analysis did find that employees believe their direct managers support their development more today, it also found they feel their organizations have murkier approaches to career progression. Compared to 10 years ago, workers are 10% less likely today to have a good idea of possible career paths available to them, and they are 6% less likely to agree there are enough people to do the work in their work group. 

“Employees feel that there are not enough people to tackle demanding workloads, and often don’t see how their hard work will help them advance in the organization,” Royal said. “It’s important to continually monitor and adjust accordingly the demands on employees, and also offer them clear career paths that reward solid contributions."

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