This Week's Herman Trend Alert

HR in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

October 17, 2001

Workers are Cocooning . . . for Now

With all the turbulence in the economy and in the employment market, thousands of workers are burrowing in to wait out the storm. They're seeking the warm comfort of their corporate cocoons, as a protective strategy. Cocoons, the safety and security of current job(s), are the best places to be now. In their cocoons, workers will weather the storm while watching vigilantly for changes in the employment climate.

Needed by their employers, these workers are secure in their positions. But they're not happy. Many of these workers don't like their bosses. They're not happy with their co-workers and they're not excited about the work they're doing. In their cocoons, however, smart workers continue to grow. They are sharpening their skills and when the right opportunity comes along, they'll jump right out of those cocoons. They're just waiting for the right time.

Cocooning is giving employers a false sense of security. Those employers believe their people are loyal and happy. Because people are not moving, but hunkered down for safety, employers don't sense the restlessness. As a result, many employers have been lured into complacency. They're not devoting a lot of attention and caring to these employees, assuming that they're content and not interested in changing jobs.

When the economy begins to grow again, new job opportunities will be created. The need for cocooning--staying within the safety and security of their current positions--will be over. The volatility in the employment market will return, probably stronger than it was before the slowdown in the economy. When dissatisfied employees start leaving, many employers will be astonished! They will not be prepared for their sudden labor shortage and will probably be vulnerable to serious damages in product/service quality, production capacity, delivery schedules, and customer loyalty.

Please note that even today there are still plenty of jobs open, looking for people to fill them. The economy does not have to be in a turnaround growth mode for needy employers to be hunting. If the recruiters can convince employed workers that the positions they're offering are secure, the de-cocooning could come unexpectedly early.

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