Employees favour security and stability in current crisis

According to a recent survey by Adecco Greece of 500 men and women aged 26 and over, employee expectations change in times of financial crisis. The survey found that a sense of security and stability was the most important characteristic that 32% of participants sought during the economic crisis; only 4% considered pay to be important at such a time. The majority (92%) showed a willingness to be flexible over pay during the crisis if other factors were satisfactory.

Survey methodology

A questionnaire-based survey carried out by Adecco Greece in March–May 2011 investigated the outlook and expectations of Greek employees amid the economic crisis.

The survey involved 500 men and women aged 26 or over, of which 62% were men and 38% were women. Most of those who took part in the survey had a higher education qualification: 34% held a postgraduate degree, 30% were university graduates and 15% had graduated from technology institutes and colleges. Sixty-two per cent of those questioned had been active in the labour market for more than seven years.

Key findings

Most important elements

In times of financial crisis, a sense of security and stability was the most important characteristic sought by 32% of participants from their work. But even in the midst of the crisis (when circumstances would not favour changing jobs or looking for a finding job), 28% of respondents considered that achieving satisfaction from their work was still important. The third choice, selected by 12%, was a good working environment, while 11% of the sample sought advancement prospects.

Only 4% of participants considered pay an important characteristic. According to the survey report, this finding ‘should be expected in times of economic uncertainty, when security and stability come first’.

Factors creating a sense of security at work

A majority (65%) of the employees surveyed stated that a sound and profitable enterprise provided them with a sense of security. In second place, 14% of participants chose access to communication with the management for information, while 12% considered information about the enterprise’s future plans and objectives to be the most important factor in creating a sense of security.

As a consequence, according to the survey report, ‘the interaction with the management at different levels (dialogue – information) contributes to the sense of security of employees’.

Flexibility regarding pay

The overwhelming majority (93.2%) of respondents claimed to be willing to show flexibility in terms of pay during the crisis provided other factors such as the type of work, labour relations and promotion prospects were satisfactory.

Men were more willing to accept adjustment to their pay, with 96% replying positively to the relevant question. Slightly fewer women (88.3%) gave a positive answer to this question. The group aged 31–35 years (men and women) was the most ‘flexible’ group on this issue, with 97.3% of them replying positively, followed by 91.5% of those aged over 40.

Factors leading to professional advancement

Asked what helped them to achieve professional advancement, the top preference (39%) selected by participants was the chance to attend seminars and to acquire knowledge and specialisation through their company. Promotion prospects followed at 24%, while the possibility of participating in organised schemes for the promotion of professional advancement was chosen by 22%. Finally, 15% of participants chose adequate in-house training on their company’s new initiatives and procedures.

Factors leading to satisfaction with employment

Fifty-eight per cent of those questioned said that the most important factor in achieving satisfaction with their job was how closely it matched their qualifications and interests. This enabled them to become personally interested as performance of their tasks brought about a positive attitude and self-fulfilment.

In second place, at 22%, was the freedom to take the initiative and to make decisions. This is related to the trust and respect that employees look for in order to feel secure. Activities that corresponded to the job description given in the original advertisement or to what was discussed at the job interview were considered an important factor by 11%. The lowest rates were recorded by reasonable working hours (5%) and reasonable workload (4%).

Commentary

The past year saw rapid changes in the employment arena in Greece as employees fear being laid-off and a widespread sense of insecurity prevails. In this context, the priority for most workers seems to be a sense of security at work.

Sofia Lampousaki, Labour Institute of Greek General Confederation of Labour (INE/GSEE)

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