The Slow, Silent War for Talent

Mitch Snyder 1943-1990
Image by dbking via Flickr

A lot of people don’t like their job

Shocking news from the Conference Board and MSNBC today folks!    Americans are unhappy at work!

We can’t get no job satisfaction.

Even Americans who are lucky enough to have work in this economy are becoming more unhappy with their jobs, according to a new survey that found only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their work.

That was the lowest level ever recorded by the Conference Board research group in more than 22 years of studying the issue. In 2008, 49 percent of those surveyed reported satisfaction with their jobs.

This is one of those sort of obvious conclusions.  What you might consider a DUH! moment.

The economy still sucks.  The degree of career opportunity that existed just a couple of years ago is greatly diminished.  Many people have gone from considering multiple job opportunities on a regular basis to a state of that says:  “I am just lucky to have a job!”

This isn’t healthy.  It breeds frustration and low morale.  It is even worse if the company is obviously taking advantage of this situation, or is in bad financial straits.  On top of being stuck, wages may get cut. Benefits may get reduced.

People are resilient

The good news is people adapt, even in difficult circumstances.  They will find ways to cope.  New ways to deal emotionally with things that trouble them.

Spending less, doing more

I ran across this story today on the Morning News Beat blog yesterday.

According to a new survey by the New York Times and CBS News, “Quietly but noticeably over the past year, Americans have rejiggered their lives to elevate experiences over things … nearly half of Americans said they were spending less time buying nonessentials, and more than half are spending less money in stores and online.”

But apparently it is not just a matter of spending less, according to the Times story: “They are also doing more. Some are working longer hours, but a larger proportion, the poll shows, are spending additional time with family and friends, gardening, cooking, reading, watching television and engaging in other hobbies.”

The trend seems to be borne out by similar studies done by the US Department of Labor.

Experts call the trend “experience consumption” — rather that buying things, they are engaging in shared activities that can occur in places ranging from the hiking trail to the movie theater, an art museum to the kitchen.

Experience Consumption in the Workplace

This developing trend is noteworthy for HR professionals, as well as business owners.


HR people should be taking note of the fact that people are liking their jobs less, and compensating by investing more time in the other side of the work/life equation.  The really talented ones will eventually do what people do — turn their passion into their profession, and leave a situation they don’t like in order to do something they enjoy.

This has always happened, but the equation of why someone may do so has changed.  If they don’t see opportunities with their employers that are enriching, people will leave because they have less to lose from the risk, and more to gain.

There is a subtle evolution taking place in the on-going talent wars.  Many companies are competing with themselves in a slowly waged battle.

What are you doing about it?

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