The Dire State of Feeling Vulnerable and Fearful on the Job



Dr. Judith M. Bardwick, Ph.D.


Have hardworking Americans overwhelmingly stopped caring about their jobs? After years of massive layoffs and countless acts of corporate callousness, people from all fields and backgrounds—but especially the young and educated—got the message:  the company no longer values them.  Expecting the worst to happen, they saw no reason to give any organization their all.  As a result, as many as two-thirds of today’s workers are either actively looking for new jobs or merely going through the motions at their current jobs.  While they still show up for work each day, in the ways that count, many have quit.

This has been identified as a widespread state of feeling vulnerable, resentful, and fearful about work. Call it the Psychological Recession.  The revelation of how this condition, marked by a dour view of the present and even bleaker view of the future, poses a serious threat to our nation’s economic health and vitality.

When people are perceived as a cost and not a resource, when they are treated as a liability and not an asset, when no one seems to know or care that they are there, they don’t work well, and they don’t stay. It’s not just an opinion.  Hard numbers and hard-hitting data, drawing on university studies, government reports, Gallup polls, and an array of groundbreaking research clearly demonstrate employees’ feelings have a measurable, dramatic impact on their company’s financial outcomes.  Aggravated by bad management, the Psychological Recession results in low productivity, high absenteeism, pervasive apathy, constant turnover, and a huge toll on the bottom line.

Fortunately, I go beyond the dire diagnosis to offer hope and help for recovery based on what works for profitable, people-focused companies, with my book, ONE FOOT OUT THE DOOR. It presents a wealth of original ideas and practical strategies for nurturing employee commitment and engagement, and restoring people’s confidence and optimism.

They include:

  •  Creating significant relationships between bosses and employees, with an emphasis on the special importance of trust, genuine communication, and reciprocal mentoring.
  • Inspiring and recognizing leadership in the ranks, supported by a commitment to shaping “average” people into successful and self-assured performers.
  •  Humanizing the workplace and strengthening the bond with employees through customizing incentives and rewards to appeal to the priorities of diverse individuals.
  • Achieving the best fit between what the organization can offer and what a worker requires or desires, starting at the hiring stage.

In the book’s final section, I broaden my scope to the precarious state of the American Dream. Acknowledging the challenges of increasing global interdependence and competition, I advocate creating a 21st Century Safety Net. Focus on reforms in three critical areas: education, providing an accessible, affordable program for adult learning, along with improving and re-thinking our K-12 public school system; healthcare, ensuring affordable coverage for all working Americans; and an increase in well-paying American jobs, achieved through a radical collaboration between employees and management. Innovation is the key to being successful today, and the United States remains the most innovative country because of our basic values of individualism, democracy, and the flat playing field of a meritocracy. From the pioneers who went West… to Silicon Valley… there has always been an entrepreneurial spirit in America and a more competitive world only makes that quality even more valuable.

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