Not all those who are out of work are seeking it, nor are those who seek it similarly motivated to find it. It could be that you or someone you know are among the growing number who are either dissatisfied with their current job but content to keep it or unemployed and increasingly frustrated to the point you are no longer actively looking. In both cases, the growing numbers are unsettling.
There is a tragic irony at the moment when what employers’ look for most in those they hire are enthusiasm for the work to be performed, bringing a positive attitude to the workplace and self-investment. Where’s the irony? It exists in the growing numbers of workers who have for some time now grown increasingly bitter, discouraged and frustrated with the prevailing behaviours of employer’s generally, who treat their employees as expendable and interchangeable.
Ironic as that might be, there is a real cost to our society that is hard to measure quantitatively but is real just the same. Treat an employee with respect, give reason for them to believe that they can aspire to positions of greater responsibility and corresponding income and workforce engagement increases. With a more engaged workforce, individual workers commit more to what they produce, increasing their overall efficiency, resulting in turn in better products and services.
However, the opposite is also true. Treat an employee with a lack of respect, give them little reason or hope to think they will ever aspire to positions of greater responsibility and limit their financial empowerment, and they disengage from the workforce. Individual workers are less committed to their work, productivity drops as does the quality of the goods and services produced. Rare indeed is the employee who will continually invest fully of themselves and continue to invest at a high level when they don’t feel valued by their employer.
As for the unemployed, it is no surprise to find that when a person has little to no reason to feel encouraged and hopeful that they will find a job, they lose enthusiasm for the process. We might meet a person who is out of work and depending on the moment we find them see them heavily invested or entirely detached from seeking employment.
Whether a person is looking for a survival job or a job with meaning that they attach to it, how they experience the job search has a great deal with how fast or prolonged that job search will be. So the job seeker who finds themselves getting no replies at all to their applications – not even an acknowledgement that they’ve applied – this person will grow increasingly despondent. The person who gets acknowledged, and even better the odd interview and some meaningful feedback has reason to hope.
It is common for an unemployed person to wonder, “What’s wrong with me?”, “What am I not doing?”. Without feedback, some go on making the same mistakes out of ignorance, then lose enthusiasm to even look or eventually stop looking altogether. The cost to the person then rises; gaps in resumes appear, smiles morph into faces of consternation, the optimistic turn doubtful, the experienced lose their relevance.
No wonder than that a number of employers openly question the quality of applicants that approach them for employment. Where did all the highly motivated, skilled workers with current work histories and best practices go? It is far too easy to lay all the blame at the door of all employers. Some in fact are exceptionally good at cultivating investment in the people they employ.
This problem of disengagement isn’t confined to the out-of-work only. There are many current workers who are holding on to jobs they once found challenging and satisfying who are now just putting in time. They are performing at levels just good enough to keep their jobs, but they mentally invest less and less and produce items and offer services with less investment. The result is that the employer becomes interested only as it affects their bottom line and addresses not the core of the problem but oft-times the symptoms.
So why do workers stay in jobs they no longer feel engaged performing? Primarily it comes back to the economy. It’s precarious to leave the known for the unknown; security of employment only to start new and fresh in the hopes of not just getting a job elsewhere but regaining things like seniority, similar benefits like the number of vacation weeks one’s earned. With so much competition out on the streets already, maybe it’s fear that keeps many from moving on. And of course, putting a résumé together, writing letters, going to interviews, being rejected, trying again and networking etc. just seems like so much more effort than what one’s doing at the present.
This isn’t a good recipe for finding the brightest and best. This is a recipe that could eventually with the right agitation lead to major changes by way of disruptive instigation brought about by necessity for change. More people growing anxious about finding employment; more finding it harder to feel acknowledged for their efforts as well as their results.
While respect for the job seeker isn’t the only answer, respect for people no matter their employment status and ensuring that work performed is meaningful and appreciated is a good start.
What’s your take on some of the thoughts I’ve raised here?