Workforce satisfaction

The confidence of Florida employees held steady in June, according to the latest workforce survey conducted for Spherion Corp. by Harris Interactive. A slight drop in worker confidence in the overall economy was offset by increases in personal confidence indicators, such as their ability to find new jobs and the future of their current employers. More than three-quarters of Florida workers are reporting confidence in the security of their jobs, according to Steve Wajda, Spherion district director.

“It’s pretty remarkable that 68 percent of Florida workers surveyed report confidence in their ability to find new jobs — an increase of 11 percentage points over May,” he says. “But with fast job growth and the low unemployment rate we’re continuing to experience in Florida, it’s not surprising. Conversely, if you look at the overall U.S. workforce, 56 percent report confidence in their ability to find new jobs — and that’s down by four points from May.”

Smart Business spoke with Wajda about the latest Florida workforce survey and how employees are feeling about their jobs.

How confident are Florida workers in the overall economy?
The number of Florida workers who believe the economy is getting stronger dropped to 13 percent in June — nine percentage points below May’s level. Those who believe the economy is remaining the same rose by five points to 46 percent — almost half. This tracks somewhat with overall U.S. numbers, which declined by four percentage points in June to 19 percent reporting confidence that the economy is strengthening and 38 percent believing that it is remaining the same.

Confidence in the overall economy is just one indicator we measure, however, and some of the other indicators have increased to offset this drop — most notably workers’ confidence in their ability to find new jobs should they choose to do so.

How do Florida workers feel about job security?
Seventy-six percent of workers in Florida are confident in the security of their jobs, which compares closely to 78 percent of the overall U.S. workforce.

Another positive indicator is that the number of Florida workers who do not believe their jobs are secure declined by four percentage points, and those who don’t feel strongly one way or the other increased by 10 points to 18 percent. In other words, the shift is toward greater optimism. We’re seeing this in terms of worker confidence in their employers’ futures as well.

Why do you think employees feel more confident about their employers’ futures?
Again, that could point to strong job growth and an unemployment rate in Florida that is much lower than the national average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent state data, the Florida unemployment rate was just 3.2 percent in May, as compared to 4.6 percent for the overall United States. That’s certainly a cause for confidence among the Florida workforce.

How do Florida employees feel about the availability of jobs, as compared to the overall U.S. workforce?
Florida workers are more optimistic than their U.S. counterparts by more than 10 percentage points. In Florida, three-quarters of workers (73 percent) believe that job availability is strong or stable, compared to 61 percent of the overall U.S. workforce.

Where does this data come from?
These results are based on our June 2006 survey of working adults in Florida, as summarized in the June Spherion Employment Report for Florida. The surveys are conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Spherion Corp. and are part of the Spherion Emerging Work Force Series of employment surveys. Harris Interactive is widely known for The Harris Poll, one of the longest-running independent opinion polls, and for pioneering online market research methods.

How should area businesses and Florida employers react to these results?
Our recent surveys indicate that worker confidence continues to rise, placing them in the driver’s seat when it comes to employers filling open positions.

With a greater demand to fill jobs than there is a supply of available workers, employees are gaining a better sense of their value in the tighter labor market. We’re seeing this in areas such as customer service and call centers as well as in requests for financial analysts.

In times like these, employers should be prepared to make some adjustments in compensation, benefits, and work environment if they want to attract — and retain — the best talent in the market.

STEVE WAJDA is a district director at Spherion Corp. Reach him at (813) 623-6399 or [email protected].