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Has the Recession Shattered Your Sense of Job Security?

Job SecurityAre you more inclined to stick with a job or company you can just tolerate? Or would you like to roll the dice and work elsewhere to advance your career?

Before the Great Recession started shattering career dreams and battering families' finances in 2008, more people were willing to jump ship to either advance their careers or just find a better job. Now that the recession appears to be over (although I'm sure many would disagree with that), there's evidence that the thousands of layoffs and home foreclosures have resurrected the old post-World War II work culture of putting up with a job in the name of security.

The evidence includes the following:

  • Eight out of 10 people want to "settle into" a job, with about half saying they want to work for one company their entire career and the rest wanting to work for no more than two or three employers, according to a survey conducted by professional services company Towers Watson.
  • About 86% cited a secure and stable position as the most important factor in a preferred work situation, while 74% cited substantially higher levels of compensation, the Towers Watson survey revealed. So, staying put is better than making more money.
  • More than half (54%) of respondents to an American Express survey would make one or more sacrifices to keep their jobs. The top two sacrifices: working longer hours and taking a demotion.

I found the middle statistic to be the most stunning and alarming. But altogether, these numbers remind me of the mindset that came out of a bigger economic calamity: the Great Depression of the 1930s. That led to a feeling of constant economic insecurity that lasted well into the '60s and '70s. In that era, the prevailing attitude toward work was "If you get a good job, keep it for as long as you can." That was also the age of the paternalistic company that all but guaranteed lifetime employment and healthy retirement pensions. In short, there were both psychological and financial reasons to not change jobs.

But emotionally, it created lots of frustration for those who toiled for years in jobs they merely tolerated or just hated. Is that era coming back? I hope not. But I can understand how many would have a greater need for job security by staying at one company for longer than they might if economic conditions were different.

What about you? How has the recession changed your attitude toward work? Would you be more willing to stay in a job and just try to be happy with it? Or are you more willing to risk your security by looking for opportunities elsewhere? Please share your views with us.

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