Employee Confidence in Job Security, Company Outlook Increases

While employees are more confident about job security, fears linger over pay and benefits cuts.

Despite recent economic reports that show jobless claims have been down for several consecutive weeks, employees reveal mixed feelings about what is in store at their employer, for the overall job market and for their pay check in the year ahead, according to the fourth-quarter Glassdoor employment confidence survey of 2,118 U.S. adults.

The survey, conducted on Glassdoor's behalf by Harris Interactive, found employees are more confident in their job security and company's outlook in the next six months than in the third quarter. However, employees have also remained pessimistic about pay raises and grown more uncertain about the job market since the third quarter.
Nearly half (45 percent) of employees reported they do not expect a pay raise in the next 12 months, while approximately one-third (36 percent) said they believe they will get one and 19 percent said they are unsure. Those who thought they would receive a pay raise is down one percentage point from the third quarter and five points from the fourth quarter of 2009. Those in the West were even less optimistic where more than half (55 percent) do not expect a pay raise in the next 12 months, up from 48 percent in the region in the third quarter, compared with those in the Northeast (44 percent), Midwest (42 percent) and South (43 percent).
In the fourth quarter, 40 percent of employees reported their employers made changes to the number of staff, organizational structure, compensation, and benefits or other perks in the past six months, which is down from 55 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, when the majority of these job actions involved layoffs or layoff plans. In the past year, the highest incidence of employer actions shifted to compensation changes or cuts.
The survey found more than half (52 percent) of employees who reported at least some change indicated their company made changes to or reduced compensation in the past six months, up from 50 percent a year ago. One in four (27 percent) said their own compensation (pay, bonus, etc.) was reduced during the same period. In the fourth quarter, however, layoff reports dropped 11 points year-over-year with 46 percent of employees reporting their employers initiated or communicated layoffs in the past six months.
"Employees are getting mixed signals from their employers and the market, so it's no surprise employee confidence in the fourth quarter reflects a mixed bag of optimism and caution," said Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor.com career and workplace expert. "Employment confidence is very personal. While there are some recent positive indicators in the labor market, these don't capture the wide range of employer cuts and other actions employees see and feel on a regular basis."
Rueff said employees' sentiment about their job, company and market will likely remain tempered until they see consistent and sustained periods of growth, fewer cutbacks at work and among their friends' companies, and more people getting hired into positions that were either eliminated or put on hold during the recession.
The survey found while reported cutbacks in other areas declined or remained at the same level from the third quarter, health and dental benefit cuts peaked at the highest level in two years following steady quarterly increases. This quarter, 28 percent of employees who cited at least some changes reported cuts to their health and dental benefit in the past six months, compared with 22 percent in the third quarter and 17 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009.