SHRM Poll Finds Nearly Half of Employees Believe Their Jobs Are Not at Risk

Jun 29, 2009

SHRM Poll Finds Nearly Half of Employees Believe Their Jobs Are Not at Risk

A majority of employees plan to stay put once the economy improves.

NEW ORLEANS − The number of workers who believe their job is “not at risk” dropped slightly to 47 percent compared with 51 percent roughly six months ago, while those who think their job is “significantly at risk” held steady at six percent.

The findings are detailed in a poll, “The Continued Economic Downturn: Employee Perspective,” released yesterday by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) at its 61st Annual Conference and Exposition in New Orleans.

The percentage of employees describing their job as “slightly at risk” rose from 31 percent in January to 35 percent in June while those who believe their job to be “moderately at risk” held steady at 13 percent.

“Although the economic outlook is slowly improving, the currently employed face recession concerns nonetheless,” said Steve Williams, Ph.D., SPHR, director of research at SHRM. “The poll data reflect workers’ perceptions about job security and the impact of benefit reductions and salary freezes in a weakened economy.”

Job security remains top of mind for the still employed with 56 percent reporting that it is “very unlikely” they will job hunt once the economy improves, a slight increase from the 51 percent who reported the same roughly six months ago.

Only 10 percent plan to job search or intensify an existing search when the economy picks up — a number unchanged from the start of this year. The poll shows an even split with the number (17 percent) of workers who report it is “somewhat unlikely” and “somewhat likely” they will jump ship when the job market improves. The numbers were nearly the same in January when 20 percent reported it “somewhat unlikely” and 19 percent said “somewhat likely”.

The poll also highlights how employees are managing their finances during tough times:

  • 83 percent – reduced personal spending/cut back on discretionary expenses;
  • 44 percent – decreased the use of credit cards/cancelled credit accounts;
  • 16 percent – increased the use of credit cards/opened credit card accounts;
  • nine percent – actively searched for higher-paying jobs; and
  • nine percent – reduced contributions to employer-sponsored retirement savings plans.

Other key findings in the poll include:

  • The impact of changes to benefit offerings. Nearly one-half (46 percent) of polled workers said reductions to employer-sponsored health care benefits would have “a significant negative impact” on them while 57 percent said the same if contributions to their retirement plan were suspended.
  • A description of those actively job hunting now. Only three percent of employees are “actively” searching for a job, while 17 percent are “passively” looking. The overwhelming majority — 80 percent — are currently “not searching for a job at all”.
  • Job risk perception if the economy continues to decline over the next six months. The responses are unchanged from January to June with 35 percent responding “not at risk” and 36 percent responding “slightly at risk while 11 percent said “significantly at risk”. An insignificant change marks “moderately at risk” — 17 percent said so in June compared with 18 percent in January
  • The difficulty of the job hunt. In the last six months, the number of “actively job searching” employees who said that the current economic downturn increased the difficulty of finding a job nearly doubled from 27 percent in January 2009 to 53 percent in June 2009.

To read this survey and other SHRM surveys, please visit:


About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at


Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You
Post a Job

Earn a SHRM Talent Acquisition Specialty Credential.

Do you have what it takes to win the war for talent? Find out.



Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies

Search & Connect