Many companies have eliminated positions due to the economic climate. For employees left behind, that means an increase in their workload, sometimes to dangerous, even epic proportions.
There are good and bad points to this. On the one hand, you still have a job. And the company is saving money, perhaps enough to get it through the recession where it might otherwise have folded.
But putting more work on less people has risks, too.
Stressed employees get sick more often
According to this 2009 report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at CDC.gov, one-third of workers report high stress. The report goes on to say that stress causes an increase in health care visits.
Anyone who is overworked and underpaid thanks to the economy knows this. Stress can weaken immune systems, worsen existing ailments, and raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
If the conditions suck, employees will bail
Sometimes you have to man up and take one for the team. At tax time, for example, most accounting firms are crazy busy. They know this and can prepare for it. With adequate preparation and staffing, most offices will sail through a busy period.
Turnover is higher when workers feel unappreciated, overworked and aren’t given control over their jobs. When more employers start hiring and better jobs become available again, the unhappy will jump ship. It costs more money than you think to constantly replace workers than to treat them right in the first place.
Using temps and contractors saves money, but devalues jobs
Most people who temp aren’t in it for the long haul, but hoping for something permanent. Since more companies are using temps in the recession, there are opportunities out there, but according to Laura Bassett on huffingtonpost.com, jobseekers should be wary.
In Bassett’s article, George Wentworth, a senior attorney for the National Employment Law Project says, “There are abuses in many of these industries where employers try to keep somebody on a, quote, ‘temporary’ for periods of time far longer than you’d expect for a temp job, but in this economy, workers are less likely to complain. And the temp agencies are pretty much unregulated, so workers are on their own having to bring contract action.”
With all the cheap temps floating around, companies may be less inclined to hire permanent workers and pay them benefits. The Affordable Care Act may, at least at first, make it harder for people to find jobs that provide health insurance.
Reluctance to hire to pre-recession numbers erodes motivation
The good news is that more big companies are hiring. Unfortunately, they’re not doing it in the U.S. Many of the jobs workers lost in the recession are gone for good, replaced by outsourced workers who earn pennies compared to U.S. workers. Citing “efficiency,” big companies are remaining cautious, while smaller ones are struggling.
This makes it harder for workers doing several jobs to remain motivated. If there is no end to the pressure, eventually something’s going to give way. And it just might be a company’s workforce.
So how to survive in this recession-ravaged work world?
Many people have turned to freelancing, which isn’t for everyone. But others have invented their own jobs or started their own businesses. Career development professional Michele Martin has some interesting thoughts on how to create a new career. With the Internet, it’s easier to do this than ever.
If your digital skills are rusty, there is no shortage of free tutorials on the web. I’ve included some links at the bottom of the post. Tech skills, even basic ones, are a necessity these days.
Even if it’s not practical at the moment, it’s worthwhile to put on the thinking cap and explore new possibilities. As the old saying goes, the only certain thing in life is change.
Goodwill Community Foundation Learnfree.org: good for beginners or for brushing up on programs you don’t use often.
BBC.com Language Courses: Traveling for work? Need to get the basics of a new language? Start here.
Open Culture: free university lessons on a myriad of topics.
U.S. Small Business Administration: everything you need to know about starting a small business.
O*Net Online: U.S. Department of Labor tools for researching career options, job descriptions, etc.