Despite recent economic reports that show jobless claims down for several consecutive weeks, employees reveal mixed feelings about what is in store at their employer, for the overall job market and their pay check in the year ahead.
According to the fourth quarter Glassdoor.com Employment Confidence Survey of 2,118 U.S. adults older than 18, employees were more confident in their job security and company's outlook in the next six months than they were in the third quarter. However, this optimism was not universal as employees remained pessimistic about pay raises and grew more uncertain about the job market since last quarter.
This varied sentiment may be influenced by the types and frequency of employer-initiated actions and cuts that impact employees and their jobs. In the fourth 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, which is down from 55 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 when the majority of these job actions involved layoffs or layoff plans.
In the past year, the highest incidence of employer actions shifted to compensation changes or cuts.This quarter, more than half (52 percent) of employees who reported at least some change indicated their company made changes to or reduced compensation in the past six months, up from 50 percent a year ago.
One in four (27 percent) said their own compensation (pay, bonus, etc.) was reduced during the same period. However, layoff reports dropped 11 points year-over-year with 46 percent of employees reporting their employers initiated or communicated layoffs in the past six months.
While reported cutbacks in other areas declined or remained at the same level from the third quarter, health and dental benefit cuts peaked at the highest level in two years following steady quarterly increases.
This quarter, 28 percent of employees who cited at least some changes reported cuts to their health and dental benefit in the past six months, compared to 22 percent in the third quarter and 17 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009. Meanwhile, employees reported fewer cuts in perks (i.e. commuter subsidies, free food, tuition reimbursement) (12 percent) and hiring freezes (24 percent) than in previously reported quarters. The rates for furloughs, unpaid leave and/or mandatory vacation (17 percent) as well as job restructurings/redundancies (11 percent) remained unchanged from the third quarter.
"Employees are getting mixed signals from their employers and the market, so it's no surprise employee confidence in the fourth quarter reflects a mixed bag of optimism and caution," said Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor.com career and workplace expert. "Employment confidence is very personal. While there are some recent positive indicators in the labor market, these don't capture the wide range of employer cuts and other actions employees see and feel on a regular basis. Employee sentiment about their job, company and market will likely remain tempered until they see consistent and sustained periods of growth, fewer cutbacks at work and among their friends' companies, and more people getting hired into positions that were either eliminated or put on hold during the recession."
The Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey highlights four key indicators of employee confidence in the areas of salary and bonus expectations, job security, job market/re-hire probability and company outlook.