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1 in 3 Employees Feel Disengaged At Work – Could This Be The End Of The “Permanent” Job?

Posted by Stoppard, Jill at Monday, 08/20/2012 1:16 pm
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According to the National Business Research Institute Inc (NBRII), a shocking 1 in 3 workers don’t feel engaged at work and spend their time socializing, surfing the web and even sleeping on the job!

Equally as alarming, only 8% of employees say that they feel content to stay in their current job, with 55% of workers definitely planning to leave and a further 33% weighing up the possibility of leaving their current job in the near future. A perpetually restless 3% of workers confessed to continually being on the lookout for their next gig.

Low employee motivation can seriously damage productivity, with US businesses losing an average of $300 billion a year due to disengaged employees.

The NBRII research cites the main reason for low employee engagement and motivation as lack of opportunity for advancement – but I can’t help but think that the wider reason for low employee engagement is much simpler than that. Boredom.

Maybe we’re not as suited to committing to long term positions as we used to be. Maybe we secretly yearn for autonomy. Sure, so called “permanent jobs” arguably provide more economic security, but we’ve come a long way from the days where kids graduated from college dreaming of a job for life and a gold watch at retirement.

In fact, a recent Harris Interactive survey found that more than two in five working adults (42 percent) are willing to give up some percentage of their salary for more flexibility at work – with the 18-34 age group up to three times more likely to give up more than 10 percent of their salary; despite this group suffering the highest unemployment rate.

Could working independently as project based workers ultimately make us happier and more productive at work by providing the flexibility and the variety we seem to crave?

Findings from a recent Elance survey seemed to suggest that it might, with 61% of freelancers saying they’re happier working as independence professionals. Only 11% said they preferred to be a regular employee. The ability to take control of their own schedules was the No. 1 benefit cited. And there was something else that helped raised their satisfaction levels - 47% of freelancers said their incomes increased in the past 12 months, whereas salary increases in permanent jobs have been incremental at best since the recession.

Companies see the value of flexibility too – a third of all jobs are now temporary or contract positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the temporary services industry added almost ½ million workers and accounted for 91% of total job growth from June 2009 – 2011. While undoubtedly, the economy is the number one reason for the growth of the contingent workforce, I also think that more Americans see project-based consulting as a viable (and potentially preferable) career path, while companies enjoy the access to specialist skills on demand and the ability to scale up or down depending on need.

Research by Adecco found that temporary jobs are more favorably viewed today than in the past. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans say they view temporary jobs more positively than they did last year. That might be a result of a huge majority (86 percent) of Americans believing a temporary job is a good career option for people looking to gain valuable work experience.

While the contingent workforce continues to grow, I don’t think we’ll see the death of the permanent job anytime soon. Many people (and companies) prefer the stability of a permanent position (although interestingly, the average length of a permanent position is only 3.5 years anyway!). However, I do think that companies will continue to increase their use of project-based, temporary workers in their quest for a more flexible workforce and I think that the tenacious candidates that go after these project-based positions will appreciate the flexibility, diversity and opportunities for learning and advancement that contingent work can bring.

Here's the link to my inspiration for this article from SmartRecruiters:

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