Jobs may be in short supply, but they’re not nearly as valued as they used to be.
That’s the finding of researchers at Florida State University’s (FSU) College of Business, who found that the recession has left Americans questioning the wisdom of career-related sacrifices, including time away from family, less leisure time and fewer self-improvement activities.
The researchers discovered that rather than causing Americans to put a greater emphasis on the importance of having a job, the recession and high unemployment have instead, shifted workers’ focus toward home and family.
Nearly half of the 1,100 full-time employees surveyed by the researchers said the recession has helped them appreciate the value of people over things as well as fostering an increased appreciation for their families.
The research also highlighted a disparity in the way women and men have handled the pressures of work during the recession.
“Digging a little deeper into the data, it was evident that men’s reflective, and often remorseful, thoughts were driven by recession-related job insecurity and its subsequent role in encouraging hostile work treatment,” said Wayne Hochwarter, a business professor at FSU, who conducted the research.
Such stress is apparent in the comment of one study participant, a 48-year-old manager of a production facility who was laid off by his longtime employer.
“I broke my back for this company, missed my kids growing up, and for what? Nothing!” the man said.
Women’s thoughts, on the other hand, were triggered by conflicts between work and family obligations. Women reported that job obligations have increased in recent years — both in terms of time and energy — resulting in fewer hours engaged in family life.
Not only have workers reconsidered the importance of work relative to family, but more than a third of workers surveyed (37 percent) are questioning how important work is at all.
“The recession has promoted thoughts that work isn’t as important as it once was in the grand scheme of things," Hochwarter said.
Workers also said they realize their tireless efforts at work may have been for naught. Forty-two percent of workers surveyed said that most of what happens at work is out of one’s control regardless of commitment and effort. As a result, 43 percent agreed that the recession has increased their motivation to be a better person rather than just a better employee.
“Many of the people that we talked to felt that having less faith in work afforded them opportunities to direct more faith toward other often-neglected areas of life, and in most cases, it was family and friends,” said Tyler Everett, another study researcher.
The balance-seeking trend will likely continue, the researchers said, as more Millennial Generation employees — those born roughly between the mid-1970s and the early 2000s — enter, and ultimately influence, the work force. With more than 70 million members, Millennials offer a unique perspective, one in which work shares equal (or lesser) status with other important aspects of life such as friends, family and leisure, according to the study, which was also conducted by Stuart Tapley.
The research is being prepared for publication.