While employee confidence in the job market rose in the first quarter, confidence in job security, pay raises and company outlook remained relatively flat. This may be attributed to the fact that, while rates of layoffs have declined in recent quarters, employers continue to cut back in other areas. In the first quarter, 40 percent of employees reported their employers made changes to the number of staff, organizational structure, compensation and benefits, or other perks in the past six months. This is down from 53 percent in the first quarter of 2009 when the majority of these job actions involved layoffs or layoff plans.
In the first quarter, the rates of reported layoffs and layoff plans fell to the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2008 (43 percent). Meanwhile, more than half (52 percent) of employees who reported their employer made at least some change said that they changed or reduced compensation in the past six months, and slightly less than one-third (29 percent) said their personal compensation (pay, bonus, etc.) was reduced or eliminated. During the first quarter, employees reported higher rates of hiring freezes (34 percent), job restructurings/redundancies (17 percent), bonus cuts or eliminations (17 percent) and cuts to perks, such as commuter subsidies (16 percent) compared to recent quarters.
"The fickle nature of the economy sends employees mixed signals as to how much the job market really is improving – on one side there is a growing sense of optimism around hiring while at the same time employees hold a more conservative outlook for what's in store at the company level," said Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor.com 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. "This report should put employers on alert as the economy improves and employees become less risk-averse to change. We're seeing early warning signs that employment churn will rise, which will be another disruptive and costly outcome of the recession for those who don't prepare. Now is the time for employers to reassess practices they put in place to get through the Great Recession and refresh their perspective on the pay and development needs of each of their employees."
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. Highlights for the first quarter are highlighted below:
Job Market: Optimism Rises to Highest Level in Six Quarters, Yet Unemployed Job Seekers More Unsure
Optimism in the job market has grown among all employed age groups (i.e., full-time, part-time and/or self-employed) from the fourth quarter, most notably among younger workers 18-34 as half (50 percent) of this age group think they would find a job matched to their experience in the next six months compared to those 35-44 (38 percent), 44-54 (36 percent), and those 55+ (29 percent). Rehire pessimism is highest in the West as 35 percent of employees here believe it would be unlikely to get a comparable job, compared to those in the Northeast (20 percent), Midwest (26 percent) and South (27 percent). Among those unemployed but looking, sentiment is more tentative. More job seekers are uncertain (34%) they will land a job in the next six months than those who believe it likely (28%) or unlikely (26%).
Job Security: Layoff Concerns Stay Flat; Concern for Coworkers Edges Down
Employees concerned that they could be laid off in the next six months remained at 17 percent in the first quarter, flat from the fourth quarter and down just one point from the year-ago quarter (18 percent). Layoff concerns are highest among those living in the Northeast (26 percent) and lowest among those in the South (11 percent). Concerns for coworker layoffs edged down one point from the fourth quarter to 30 percent, which is down considerably from the first quarter of 2009 (44 percent). Coworker layoff concerns are highest among employees in the West (40 percent) and Northeast (38 percent), compared to the Midwest (29 percent) and South (18 percent).
Pay Raises: Confidence in Pay Raises Flat; Women Less Optimistic Than Men
Those employees who believe they will receive a pay raise in the next 12 months fell one point to 35 percent in the first quarter. Nearly half (45%) of employees report they do not expect a pay raise in the next 12 months, which is unchanged from the fourth quarter and up slightly from the first quarter 2010 (42 percent) while one in five (20%) are unsure. Optimism about pay varies between gender and geography. Women (30 percent) are less optimistic they will receive a pay raise in the next six months compared to men (39 percent). Additionally, employees in the Northeast are most optimistic about pay raises (43 percent) compared to Midwest (34 percent), South (31 percent) and West (34 percent).
Company Outlook: Employees Lose Optimism, Yet Men's Outlook Brighter Than Women's
Employee optimism for their company's outlook retreated two points in the first quarter with 40 percent of those employed full time, part time and/or self-employed reporting they expect their company's outlook in the next six months to improve. This is relatively flat from the year-ago quarter (41 percent) but significantly better than the first quarter 2009 (35 percent). However, slightly more employees (12 percent) expect their company's outlook to get worse in the next six months than the fourth quarter (9 percent) and the year-ago quarter (10 percent). Nearly half (48%) expect their company's outlook to stay about the same. The opinion about company outlook varies widely between genders as men reveal significantly more optimism with half (50%) expecting their company outlook to improve compared to more than one-fourth (28%) of females.