- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 4, 2001

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) An uncertain job market hasn't changed the average U.S. worker's willingness to jump ship if a better or friendlier offer comes along, according to a national labor study released yesterday.

Even though corporate America has been trying to keep employees happy, more than a third of workers plan to leave their current job within two years. That lack of loyalty is almost unchanged from the economic boom days of 1999, according to the study by Indianapolis-based Walker Information.

"What it says to me is that pool tables and scooters in the employee rec room don't do a lot for creating truly loyal and committed workers," said Marc Drizin, one of Walker's lead researchers.

"Fun and frivolity are nice, but a culture that trains employees for advancement and creates an atmosphere of mutual respect the feeling that we're all in this together is more important, regardless of the economic conditions."

Walker's survey was of 2,795 full-and part-time workers from across the nation. The survey has an error margin of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

The study found that only 43 percent of workers believe employers deserve their loyalty and only 45 percent feel a strong personal attachment to their organizations. The results confirm the long-lasting effect of the downsizings of the late 1980s that severely eroded trust between workers and their employers.

The study suggests several ways companies can reduce costly turnover rates while enhancing workers' trust, commitment and motivation.

Chief among them is giving employees reason to believe they will be treated fairly during wage negotiations, performance evaluations, workplace disputes and even during bad economic times. Companies also should demonstrate concern about a worker's personal needs and provide plenty of opportunities for career development and advancement, the study suggests.

"What was most important to me when looking for a job was finding a place that shared my values and was willing to give back to the community," said Glendal Jones, who recently took a job in the marketing department at Clarian Health in Indianapolis.

Randall Shafer, who is now business unit president of Argent Healthcare Financial Services in LaPorte, acknowledged that pay was a factor in his job search, but not the driving force.

"I certainly didn't want to lose ground in terms of pay, but that kind of takes care of itself if your goal is finding a job that promises career growth and development, and that was my goal," Mr. Shafer said.

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