Workers find silver linings in current recession

Although the downturn has proven tough for workers, those who are still employed say they're gaining more from the experience than just managing to keep their jobs. Seventy-seven percent of professionals interviewed cited at least one positive effect the recession has had on their jobs, including the ability to tackle new projects (53 percent), assume additional responsibility (52 percent), and take on more challenging work (52 percent). But according to most respondents, the extra work has yet to be formally rewarded: Only 12 percent said they have received promotions.

The national survey included responses from 457 workers 18 years of age or older and employed full or part time in an office environment. It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Accountemps, the specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance, and bookkeeping professionals.

Workers were asked, "What positive effects, if any, has the recession had on you and your job?" Their responses (multiple responses were allowed):

  • Taken on new projects: 53%
  • Gained more responsibility: 52%
  • Taken on more challenging work: 52%
  • Had more interactions with management: 44%
  • Had more interactions with clients or customers: 38%
  • Been promoted: 12%
  • None of these: 23%

"Because of the realities of today's business environment, firms are working with leaner teams, which has, out of necessity, given many professionals the opportunity to take on greater challenges and expand their skill sets," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International and author of Human Resources Kit For Dummies. "But some employees may be struggling to keep up, and employers need to ensure they provide the resources staff need to be successful and avoid becoming overburdened."

Messmer added, "While many employees are willing to stick it out during difficult times, companies must be prepared to reward those who have taken on added responsibilities as soon as business conditions improve or risk losing valued staff. Organizations that can't provide promotions or financial incentives now should look for other ways to recognize top performers and let them know there is a long-term vision for them within the organization."

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