Survey Reveals Employees’ Recession Preparation Tactics

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Talk of the U.S. economy experiencing a recession in 2023 is continuing, as some indicators – including rising interest rates and inflation – hint at a potential downturn. In response, Labor may be making efforts now to protect themselves against future economic volatility, according to a new survey from Yoh, a leading international talent and outsourcing company and part of Day & Zimmermann.

Most strikingly, with a probable recession on the horizon, nearly 3 in 10 employed Americans (29%) are more likely to seek work outside of their existing job (e.g., via a second job or side hustle) to supplement their current income. The survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Yoh among 1,097 Americans ages 18+ who are employed full- or part-time.

In total, 88% of employed Americans selected at least one of the following statements concerning their careers as talks of a potential economic recession continue:

  • I am willing to work more hours than are required of me (i.e., in the morning, at night, on the weekends) without additional compensation. (22%)
  • I am less likely to actively seek a raise or promotion. (12%)
  • I am willing to take a pay cut to avoid being laid off. (11%)
  • I am more willing to overlook my company’s failings because I don’t want to risk losing my job. (17%)
  • I am more likely to seek out work outside of my existing job to supplement my current income (i.e., second job or side hustle). (29%)
  • I am more likely to go above and beyond (e.g., take on a new project, improve organizational culture, learn new skills, undergo additional training) to highlight the value I can bring to my company. (29%)
  • I am not likely to search for a new job until the threat of a recession subsides. (15%)
  • I am just as likely to consider working for a new company as I am to stay at my current one. (23%)

Employees’ Mixed Feelings Toward Impending Economic Recession

While data from the Yoh survey reveals measures employees may be taking to ensure their job security, especially in the event their employer initiates layoffs or furloughs, the results also signal employees’ willingness to engage in riskier behaviors despite the current economic climate. Survey findings show that with talk of a potential economic recession on the horizon:

  • For certain employees, demonstrating the value they provide to their organization is a priority. Nearly 3 in 10 employees (29%) are more likely to go above and beyond (e.g., by taking on a new project, improving their organization’s culture, learning new skills, undergoing additional training) to position themselves as an asset to their employer.
  • Some employees have no problem with committing extra time to their job for no additional salary. Over 1 in 5 employees (22%) are willing to work more hours than are required of them (e.g., in the morning, at night, on the weekends) without receiving additional compensation.
  • The threat of a recession is not stopping all Americans from considering new employment. Over 1 in 5 employees (23%) are just as likely to consider working for a new company as they are to stay at their current organization.

A Note to Employers

As the survey results also uncover, there are limits to the sacrifices employees are willing to make given the current economic situation, which employers should take note of. In particular, the findings show:

  • A majority of employees still demand accountability from their employers. 83% of employees are no more willing to overlook their company’s failings, despite if doing so may cost them their job.
  • Few employees are willing to compromise their compensation, even if doing so could prevent unemployment. Just over 1 in 10 employees (11%) are willing to take a pay cut to avoid being laid off, as this point remains non-negotiable for many employed Americans. This general hesitancy holds true even when taking into account employees’ annual household income (11% of those with HHI of less than $50K, 10% of those with HHI of $50K-$74.9K, 9% of those with HHI of $75K-$99.9K, 12% of those with HHI of $100K+) and education level (9% of those with HS or less, 13% of those with some college, 11% of college grads+).

“The results of our latest survey paint a nuanced picture when it comes to employees’ current outlook on our nation’s economy,” said Emmett McGrath, President, Yoh. “While employees appear willing to demonstrate increased loyalty and a renewed commitment to their employer in these uncertain times, organizations that take advantage of this goodwill do so at their own peril. As the findings illustrate, the current economic situation does not absolve employers of their ongoing responsibility to treat and compensate their employees fairly and consistently. Employee sentiments may change in the weeks and months ahead – particularly if the economy takes a rapid nosedive – leading some to become more agreeable to dramatic changes in their work arrangements, responsibilities and compensation packages. Until then, employers would be wise to continue outwardly expressing appreciation for their talent, especially because a sizeable percentage of employees are willing to at least consider leaving their current employer, even amid impending economic turbulence.”

Additional findings from this survey of employed Americans include:

  • Parents are almost twice as likely to take a pay cut to avoid being laid off. 15% of employees who are parents of children under 18 are willing to accept lower pay to avoid being laid off with talk of a potential economic recession, while only 8% of employees who are not parents of children under 18 are willing to make such a sacrifice.
  • Employees with higher annual household incomes are more likely to be concerned with demonstrating their value than those with lower annual household incomes. Among employees with an annual household income of $100K+, 34% are more likely to go above and beyond in their workplace to highlight the value they can bring to their company given a possible recession, compared to just 23% of employees with an annual household income of less than $50,000.
  • Younger employees are more likely to seek out a second source of income. Employees under age 55 are more likely than employees ages 55-64 to say they are more likely to seek out work outside of their existing job to supplement their current income (i.e., second job or side hustle) (32% v 20%).

To learn more about the complete survey findings and Yoh’s staffing solutions, visit www.yoh.com.

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