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The Effect of the Economic Crisis on Worker Employment Experience—Issue Brief

by Christina Matz-Costa, Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Elyssa Besen & Kathy Lynch

June 2009—The Center’s 22nd Issue Brief–The Difference a Downturn Can Make analyzes two sets of data; one collected before the recent economic downturn, and one collected just following the onset. The report explores how economic concerns have affected employees’ workplace experiences and how changes differ by employee age and perception of job security. Employers who wish to maintain levels employee productivity can use this report to examine the recent changes in employee experience and workplace culture.

Employee perception of job security was shown to decrease, and perceptions of job security were shown to effect employee engagement, work overload, perceptions of supervisor support and workplace inclusion, as well as overall job quality. These trends were similar across age groups, but the extent to which employee age groups were affected varied considerably. For example, employee engagement decreased across all groups, but the decrease was most significant in the younger age groups, and almost nonexistent among employees over 53.

Employer priorities may shift during times of economic hardship. However, multiple aspects of employee experience may affect employee productivity, causing increased negative consequences for the employer. Paying closer attention to employee experience could benefit employers by increasing productivity and encouraging employee loyalty. Employers can use this information to evaluate their own practices based on employee experience pre- and post- economic downturn, and adjust their workplaces accordingly.

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