The “new normal” makes me want to spit.
For those that may not be aware, the phrase has been tossed around a lot lately, mainly to describe the post-recession reality people are living in. Slow, yet uncertain economic recovery. Companies being cautiously optimistic. A lethargic job market. Consumer confidence up a little while spending remains low. And while things are looking somewhat brighter it’s still not all that they should be.
- Unemployment is still high (9.7% nationwide as of this post) and will remain so for a long time to come;
- Underemployment is an issue that’s being overlooked. It’s where, for a variety of different reasons, employees aren’t being fully utilized. A skilled or experienced individual only being able to obtain PT, seasonal, or low-skilled work may be considered underemployed. Taking this group into consideration pushes unemployment closer to 20% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics;
- the housing and financial markets are still on life-support;
- executives at companies who received bailout money are still receiving bonuses; and
- companies are wringing their hands over their staff. Workforce reductions were like a crash-course diet; organizations spent 2009 starving themselves and now they realize that maybe it wasn’t the best idea, after all. And we (HR, CEOs, line managers) panicked and allowed it to happen. So now those that were left might be seeking greener pastures elsewhere. And can you blame them? Company loyalty, for all intents and purposes, is officially dead.
And this is okay?
I’m not blind; I understand that the world has changed. I realize that society is in a transitory state, one which will take many years to become fixed and stable. My concern is that people will come to deeply believe that the “new normal” is an acceptable state of affairs. But let’s face it-the “old normal” wasn’t great either. Homelessness, drugs, crime, debt, unemployment, corruption, and workplaces that sucked were commonplace before the financial crisis hit. Now all of these issues are magnified by the fact that these aren’t just so-called marginalized people experiencing these crises, easily ignored because they didn’t share the same address as you and I. Just about everyone
knows someone who’s been out of work in the past 2 years, or is struggling to make their house payments, or has a boatload of debt on their shoulders. We can no longer pretend that bad luck happens to someone else.
So what are we going to do about it so that this go-around is better than the last one?
Let’s start a discussion and more importantly, please connect the readers and me to people and organizations that are actively creating a better version of the “new normal” that’s so dominant right now. Show us who’s taking advantage of the chaos in a good way!
- Post-Downturn Staffing Strategies – SHRM.org