Study: Lack of Confidence in the Future of Work

At any point in history, there has existed a level of mass anxiety around the future of the work. Jobs, of course, are our livelihood, and today with all the talk about automation, political turmoil and major shifts in consumer behavior, many of the employed feel at least a little anxious. In fact, it’s not hard to identify whole industries that face uncertainty and change, from information technology to retail (see Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods).

Addison Group’s fourth annual Workplace Survey examined employees’ sentiments toward the future of the workplace — from confidence in their industry’s future, to preparation for emerging technologies like automation and artificial intelligence. What was discovered is that the more junior the employee, the less they feel confident, knowledgeable and prepared for the future. At Addison Group and for many staffing firms, entry- and staff-level employees come through our doors often as they look to establish their careers and networks. Uncertainty among this population could mean that recruiters need to play an even more hands-on role in counseling and building trust between candidates and the clients they serve.

A few interesting findings from the survey include:

  • 86% of C-suite leaders and 76% of senior management agree corporate America is headed in the right direction, compared to 54% of staff-level employees.
  • Generally, the C-suite and senior leadership recognize the level of impact emerging technologies will have on their jobs much more than staff level employees. For example, 40% of C-suite and 61% of senior management are aware of how automationcould affect their workplace, compared to 30%of mid-level managers and 23% of staff-level employees.
  • Staff-level employees are 36% less confident than C-suite leaders that they are adequately trained for the future; 36% less confident their company is hiring the right people; 32% less confident their company is retaining top talent; and 26% less confident in their company’s loyalty to customers.

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These numbers suggest that the aptly named “Mushroom Theory” is playing out in Corporate America. Since finding and retaining top-notch staff-level talent is already difficult in the current competitive job market, companies do themselves no favors when they fail to address major workplace concerns around the future of their industry or how new technologies might affect employees’ jobs.

In working to place a candidate, it’s necessary for recruiters to address their concerns about the companies and industries they are being targeted to work in. It’s always to the benefit of the recruiter to be as transparent as possible and educate candidates on how best to prepare for the changes coming to their workplace. After all, recruiters have a front-row view of the trends affecting employees’ jobs and career prospects.

For the HR department, a recruiter can improve their value to a client by understanding the changes their business faces and the type of candidates they need to target. Knowing that top-level candidates are going to want a certain level of trust and communication from their employer, it starts with the recruiter addressing any anxieties a candidate may have about a company up front.

These survey findings don’t point to an entirely new phenomenon; however, they do show the changing causes of workplace anxiety. As always, the solution to creating an attractive place to work and helping place a candidate in the right role comes down to clear, thoughtful communication from all parties. When the lines of communication between individuals and companies break down there is a potential for employees to distrust their employer and grow anxious about the future.

MORE: HR Is at the Top of Its Game, but There Are Still a Few Plays to Make

Darchelle Nass

Darchelle Nass
Darchelle Nass is senior VP of HR and administrative at Addison Group.

Darchelle Nass
Darchelle Nass is senior VP of HR and administrative at Addison Group.

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