What Workers Really Want—and Need

Source: Carl E. Van Horn, HR Magazine, Vol. 58 No. 10, October 2013

In his new book Working Scared, a Rutgers University professor documents the decade-long causes of workers’ dwindling engagement and satisfaction. …

…In the early 21st century, many U.S. workers occupy two unwelcome worlds. Millions are unemployed, fighting for a job and suffering personal and financial agony. Among those still employed, many live in a state of constant anxiety as they desperately try to hang on to jobs. These people are “working scared” because, to them, it seems that virtually every job is temporary, threatened directly or indirectly by technological change or global competition.

With no certain routes to stable employment, U.S. workers scramble for the education they need to remain employable and provide for their families. A college degree no longer brings automatic success. In Working Scared (Or Not at All): The Lost Decade, Great Recession, and Restoring the Shattered American Dream (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), I present findings based on more than 15 years of research that will help citizens, policymakers and educators, as well as business, union and community leaders, reach sounder business and policy decisions.

Working Scared draws on nearly 25,000 random interviews with employed, unemployed and underemployed U.S. citizens between 1998 and 2012—one of the most volatile periods in U.S. economic history. People from all regions, ages and occupations were interviewed. The book examines the transformation of the U.S. labor market in the first decade of the 21st century—a time when the experiences, beliefs, aspirations and concerns of working men and women were buffeted by the changing nature of work in a volatile, global, knowledge-driven economy….