New Survey Shows Workers Rethinking Priorities

Aug. 28, 2002
Many American workers are taking a closer look at what's important in their lives and many are contemplating making significant changes. So much so that 45 percent of all employees surveyed say they've either considered leaving their job in the last year, left a job or plan to do so soon.

"Over the past year, American workers have had to persevere through some extraordinarily trying times," said Dr. Keith Dixon, president of CIGNA Behavioral Health, which conducted the study. "With retirement nest eggs cracking, job security waning and terrorist threats still on the radar screen, employees are facing stresses that are causing them to rethink their priorities. Employers are in a position to help - but only if they choose to."

According to the survey, where employers have instituted or expanded workplace employee assistance programs, workers are decidedly more upbeat about their future. Fifty-four percent of those who have remained on the job indicate their employer offers workplace assistance, while only 37 percent of those employees who have left their job or intend to indicate they have access to workplace assistance.

The survey, "Worried At Work: Mood and Mindsets In The American Workplace," sampled 750 employees over age 18 with workplace benefits and 200 employers nationwide. The survey found that 44 percent of employees said their job was more stressful now than a year ago. Employees who say their attitude at work has changed for the worse point to several factors, including an uncertain economy, worries about losing their jobs and a heightened distrust in corporate America.

"These figures should catch the attention of employers across the country," says Dixon. "It's hard to build productive and cohesive work teams when more than a third of your people would rather be doing something else. We have seen that effective workplace support programs can help, and many of these employees can become invigorated contributors once again."

The survey found that a number of employers have recognized the importance of offering workplace assistance - and that both they and their employees believe it can make a difference. Moreover, many employers have stepped up and provided greater levels of support over the past year to help their employees better cope with stress on the job:

  • 57 percent of employers currently offer workplace support, such as employee assistance programs (EAPs);
  • 35 percent of those who offer support options indicate they've increased such assistance in the last year;
  • More than half (57 percent) of employers who've increased their workplace support options in the past year say their employees' attitudes have changed for the better;
  • Of employees, 74 percent who say their company offers workplace support find it valuable or helpful.

The survey highlights several workplace initiatives employers can put in place to help their workers cope. Employees who feel more upbeat about their jobs and have support options cite the following:

  • Stress reduction or counseling services - 72 percent say their employer is offering services to help workers reduce stress and address other difficult situations.
  • Flexible work schedules - 65 percent say their employer offers programs that encourage variable work schedules that accommodate employee's personal needs and requirements.
  • Work/life balance programs - 52 percent say their employer offers programs that help workers build skills to better manage the demands of both personal and professional life.
  • Promotion of volunteerism - 50 percent say their employer encourages volunteerism.
  • Physical fitness, nutrition or other health programs - 49 percent say their employer is offering fitness, nutrition and other wellness programs.

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