The terrible economy has forced people to stay in jobs in which they are not happy. As Gary Namie at the Workplace Bullying Institute points out (link here), this means that a lot of workers have had to tolerate bad, even abusive, working conditions for lack of other choices.
But now, as sectors of the job market slowly show signs of improvement, folks are looking for greener pastures. Katie Johnston Chase of the Boston Globe suggests that even slight upticks in job openings could trigger a rush of departures by unhappy workers (link here):
Now, as the economy slowly improves, many disgruntled employees who waited out the worst of it are ready to jump ship.
Nearly two-thirds of employees are testing the job market, according to the 2011 Deloitte Human Capital Trends report. Another study by Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. found that 1 in 3 people want to quit their jobs this year.
…As workers gain confidence in an improving job market, a big dam is about to burst, employment specialists say. In some cases all it takes is one discouraged person leaving a company to give others the courage to do the same thing.
Overall, this is not a happy workforce. As a graphic accompanying the article shows (link here), employee loyalty has been on a steady decline since the 2008 meltdown.
But consider these questions: Does an improving job market mean that new, better jobs are being created, or are they simply variations on a not-so-great theme? And doesn’t this mean that to some extent, unhappy workers simply will be swapping jobs with other unhappy workers, while underlying problems at their respective workplaces go unaddressed?
The bottom line is that any kind of job creation right now helps people get back to work and offers more flexibility and opportunity for all job seekers. But we also need to be attentive to the quality of worklife, looking at how workplaces can become psychologically healthier so as to benefit workers and their employers alike.