Careers 8/6/2009

July 30, 2009
More employees say they are willing to take on additional responsibilities, work longer hours, take pay cuts and unpaid leave to keep their job, according to the Q2 Employment Confidence Survey.


SME Manufacturing is Cool! site,


Expecting a pay cut? You’ve got company
More employees say they are willing to take on additional responsibilities, work longer hours, take pay cuts and unpaid leave to keep their job, according to the Q2 Employment Confidence Survey. The shift in employee sentiment comes as more employees report their companies cut pay and perks in the past six months.

More than half (54%) of employees report their company has cut staff, organizational structure, compensation and benefits, or other perks over the past six months. One of the most common moves was to layoff or communicate plans to lay off employees (58%). However, more employees this quarter report their companies initiated other actions, including bonus reductions (21%), furloughs, unpaid leave or mandatory vacations (18%), job restructuring (16%), and pay cuts (15%), than last quarter.

In general, employees report being more willing to make concessions if it would help them keep their job. The most popular suggestion is to take on more projects and responsibility (71%) and work more hours (64%), but 42% say they are willing to take a cut in salary or wages, up from 30% in the fourth quarter of 2008. Although mature employees (55+) are less optimistic about finding a job if they were let go (44%), they are also less willing to take on more work (61%) or boost their hours worked (56%), accept reduction in health and/or dental benefits (22%) and forfeit vacation or paid leave or a sabbatical (26%). Despite having lower compensation on average, younger employees (18-34) are most willing to make concessions, particularly in the areas of more work (76%), longer hours (71%) and giving up vacation or other paid leave (38%).

Manufacturing is cool!
So says a Web site by the same name put up by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation.

Unlike many education-based sites, each of the items on the Manufacturing is Cool! site challenges students to become more involved in the basic requirements of engineering programs — math, science, and technology. The landing page, featuring cartoonlike, colorful graphics, reveals the top of a kid’s desk with a jumble of kid-type items. Each represents a landing page that drills down into fun tutorials, one-on-ones with young people involved in a variety of learning experiences, as well as YouTube videos featuring plant tours and technical information interspersed with kids doing their own rap music orchestrations. The subliminal message is supposed to be that a career in manufacturing engineering can provide a terrific future.

HR departments ready themselves for hiring
A recent survey found that half of human-resources professionals are actively preparing for the return of hiring and “the other side” of the recession.

When asked what positions HR will struggle the hardest to fill, 60% of those polled in a survey by TalentDrive, Chicago, claimed information technology as well as sales and operations would both be areas where it would be tough to find good candidates. The survey by the HR software firm also asked where HR departments planned to spend the largest portion of their budget, once the recession turns. All said they would invest in implementing new marketing tactics to help recruit new talent, while half added they would invest directly in rehiring full-time employees.

Prediction: No recovery in jobs this year
“Though we’re headed in the right direction, we’re not likely to experience significant movement in job creation in 2009. Jobs will be added, but overall, businesses will continue to be conservative in their hiring and maintain focus on existing human capital.” So says Matt Ferguson, CEO of the online job board CareerBuilder. The site recently finished surveying hiring managers and HR professionals and found that 68% of them don’t anticipate any change in their full-time, permanent head count in the third quarter.

Sixty-four percent of employers reported no change in their staff levels in the second quarter. There’s good news, though, because the number of employers that added and reduced head count improved over the previous three months. Eighteen percent of employers said they boosted their full-time permanent employee count in the second quarter — up from 13% in the first quarter. Seventeen percent of employers reported a reduction in head count, an improvement from 26% in the first quarter.

Looking forward, 15% of hiring managers expect to increase full-time, permanent head count in the third quarter, up slightly from what was originally projected for the second quarter. Ten percent anticipate head count cuts in the third quarter, a projected improvement from the previous two quarters.

Good news: Brains beat beauty for earning higher pay
Researchers have found that physical attractiveness has a significant impact on how much people get paid, how educated they are, and how they evaluate themselves. Basically, people who are rated good-looking make more money, are better educated, and are more confident. But the effects of a person’s intelligence on income are stronger than those of a person’s attractiveness.

“Little is known about why there are income disparities between the good-looking and the not-so-good- looking,” says Timothy Judge, Ph.D., of the University of Florida. “We’ve found that, even accounting for intelligence, a person’s feeling of self-worth is enhanced by how attractive they are and this, in turn, results in higher pay.”

Judge’s team analyzed data from the Harvard Study of Health and Life Quality, a national, longitudinal study.

“We can be somewhat heartened by the fact that the effects of general intelligence on income were stronger than those of facial attractiveness,” said Judge. “It turns out that the brainy are not necessarily at a disadvantage to the beautiful, and if one possesses intelligence and good looks, then all the better.”

The research did show that good looking people tend to think more highly of their worth and capabilities which, in turn, led to more money and less financial stress. But, the study’s authors note, these findings also should be a warning to employers who may subconsciously favor the more attractive. “It is still worthwhile for employers to make an effort to reduce the effects of bias toward attractive people in the workplace,” said Judge. One good means of doing this, according to Judge, is to rely on objective measures such as personality and ability tests.

About the Author

Leland Teschler

Lee Teschler served as Editor-in-Chief of Machine Design until 2014. He holds a B.S. Engineering from the University of Michigan; a B.S. Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan; and an MBA from Cleveland State University. Prior to joining Penton, Lee worked as a Communications design engineer for the U.S. Government.

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