Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It Doesn't Hit You...Until it Hits You

Until the ax crashes through the wall of the cubby next door, most people don't worry about being laid off. That's the conclusion of a survey which found only 12 percent of those working at layoff-free firms are concerned about losing their jobs in the next six months. That figure rises to 45 percent among those working at companies where jobs have been lost.

"A lot of it is the 'not me' syndrome," says Robert Hohman, CEO of Glassdoor.com, a Web site that hired Harris Interactive to survey some 1,300 people on the subject. "People view this as someone else's problem, except when it happens to their company and then people get a hard dose of reality."

Even then, folks tend to see layoffs as something that happens to other people. While 45 percent of employees think they could lose their own job after a layoff has occurred, 87 percent think other people are going to be the ones let go.

The survey also examined what people are willing to do to keep their jobs as safe as possible. It found workers are willing to work harder, forgo pay increases and bonuses and take on more responsibility when they work for a company that's had layoffs in the past six months.

What fascinates me is how very few people are willing to take a pay cut to keep their job. To save their own job, people said they were willing to:

  • take on more projects/responsibility - 74 percent
  • work longer hours - 60 percent
  • give up benefits such as the on-site cafeteria or day care 46 percent
  • accept a reduction in health or dental benefits - 32 percent
  • take a cut in salary - 30 percent
  • give up paid time off/vacation - 24 percent

So, more than half of those surveyed wouldn't brown bag lunch to save their job? More than half would rather by laid off than pay for their own trips to the dentist or contribute more to their health insurance tab?

But wait, there's more. Given the current need for corporate cost-cutting, you'd think people would scale back their bonus expectations. Not so much. Forty one percent said they expect their bonus to remain the same, and 15 percent expect their bonus to be larger. Only 28 percent expect a shrinking bonus.

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