Recession fears prompt nervous employees to cut back on demands

After several months of workers feeling more powerful than their bosses, the tide is turning.

More than half of employees (58%) think their bosses are best placed in the workplace, according to a new survey conducted by Harris Poll for Bloomberg. That’s a jump of 5% since January.

The big quit and an unemployment rate that is near the lowest since the 1970s has put employees squarely in a position of power for over a year now. But with mass layoffs marking this year’s precarious economic environment and fears of a looming recession, workers feel less able to demand the benefits they’ve come to expect gradually, such as remote work or a raise.

Despite the fact that pay in many jobs has not kept up with inflation, nearly three in five respondents (59%) said they did not feel comfortable asking for a raise. And only about half of respondents think they have a chance of negotiating a flexible work schedule with their boss without fear of repercussions.

“It’s a bit of a game of chicken,” Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema told Bloomberg. “The math is: either I want to get a higher salary right now by asking for a raise, or I want to change jobs to get a raise. However, being worried about a recession, I’m also consciously thinking about my safety. employment.

A labor market of contradictions

The workers’ fears are not unfounded. Employees from Compass to Coinbase, Uber to Twitter, Wayfair to Daily Harvest and Groupon to Ford Motor Co. have fallen victim to companies’ attempts to stay profitable while heading into a recession.

The prospect of losing a job may explain why workers are now backtracking on their demands. Those who have joined the Great Resignation may be particularly frightened by the “last in, first out” rule, under which companies lay off junior employees upon layoff.

According to a survey by staffing firm Insight Global last month, nearly 80% of workers are worried about their workplace safety, and for good reason: 87% of managers said they would “probably” need to lay off employees. in the event of a recession. Millennials, many of whom began their careers during the Great Recession, were the most anxious age group.

But the labor market has not completely shaken workers’ confidence; 60% of Harris Poll respondents said they thought they could always easily find a better-paying job, and half said they tried to nab offers from other companies as leverage to get a raise. their boss.

And a slew of recent research indicates that remote work, at least part-time, leads nowhere. More than three-quarters of business leaders surveyed in real estate firm JLL’s recent Future of Work survey said offering remote or hybrid work is key to attracting and retaining their talent. “Our research undoubtedly confirms that the hybrid model is now a permanent feature of the work landscape,” JLL said.

The same sentiment is echoed in the most recent findings of WFH research by Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom and Steven J. Davis, which found that hybrid working dominates among workers able to work from home.

It could be a relief for people whose jobs do finish on the block or dare to join the Great Resignation: the advantages you were looking for in your last job will more than likely await you in the next.

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