More than half of U.S. workers anticipate job market turnaround, signaling critical opportunity

  • workforce insights
  • May 07, 2012

ATLANTA, 05.07.12 – A new study released today from Randstad, the second largest HR services and staffing company in the world, revealed that U.S. workers are feeling more secure in their jobs and less likely to make sacrifices to keep their jobs as they see a more promising future on the horizon. Three out of four (75 percent) U.S. workers feel secure in their jobs and more than half (54 percent) expect the job market to pick up this year.

Read the executive summary.

The Randstad Engagement Index, previously named the Attachment Index, measures the attitudes and perceptions impacting employee engagement within companies today. The findings represent employees’ priorities, concerns, outlook and intent around both their current employer and future career plans. The study targets employees to help employers further understand and better engage their workforces.

While respondents report feeling more secure in their current jobs, they are also cautiously optimistic around changing jobs. Fifty-eight percent think they would not be able to find a job they would want to accept right now, but almost half (45 percent) plan to explore new jobs options when the job market picks up. The Index also found that employees are less willing to make sacrifices to keep their current jobs, with only 20 percent willing to take a reduction in benefits and 10 percent willing to take a demotion or lesser job.

“Employees are indicating greater job security which is a good sign for companies. As employees regain their job confidence, there is a real opportunity for employers to re-engage their workforces to maximize and improve performance, productivity and output,” said Joanie Ruge, senior vice president & chief employment analyst for Randstad US. “As the economy and job market continue to recover, employees will likely be more motivated to assess their careers and look towards future prospects. Companies need to be on the lookout for both at-risk employees and top performers and tailor their engagement plans to meet their differing needs. By developing and delivering effective engagement and retention strategies, companies and their employees will reap the benefits both today and in the future.”

Measuring the Six Components of Engagement
The Engagement Index is built around six components that measure drivers of engagement, helping employers gauge the success of their efforts and identify current and future needs.

  • 78 percent of employees feel inspired to do their best each day.
  • Almost three-fourths (74 percent) of employees are proud to work for their company.
  • 68 percent of employees enjoy going to work every day, up 3 percent from March 2011.
  • 63 percent of employees feel their efforts at work are recognized and valued.
  • 62 percent indicate they trust their company leadership to make good workforce decisions.
  • 65 percent believe their company shares their values, up 5 percent from March 2011.

Industry Pulse
The Randstad Engagement Index also gauges insights by industry to identify workforce trends across the general employee base and within key industry sectors, including healthcare, finance and accounting, engineering, pharma and IT. Industry result highlights include:


  • Only 6 percent of healthcare employees surveyed blame their job performance overall for potential job loss. 
  • Of each key industry surveyed, healthcare workers are the least likely at 37 percent to believe the economy negatively altered their career plans.

Finance and Accounting:

  • Almost half (43 percent) of finance and accounting employees surveyed feel left behind in their career because of the poor economy and job market.
  • Only 16 percent of finance and accounting employees surveyed are concerned about losing their jobs.


  • Engineers are the most likely at 69 percent to believe that the job market will pick up in 2012.
  • Engineers are more optimistic than any other sector around getting a raise (68 percent) and a promotion (37 percent).
  • Engineers are the most willing of all sectors surveyed to consider making sacrifices to keep their job, including nearly half (45 percent) who are willing to take a vacation time reduction.

Pharma/Life Sciences:

  • Pharma employees are the least likely of all sectors at 34 percent to accept an enticing job offer from another company.
  • Pharma employees are also the least likely of any sector to take precautionary measures due to fear of job loss, with less than a third reporting that they are cutting back on expenses (28 percent) and only 21 percent trying to put more money towards savings.
  • If they were to lose their job in the near future, 31 percent (the most of any sector) expect it to take more than six months to find a new job.

Information Technology:

  • Eight in ten IT employees feel secure in their employment.
  • At 53 percent, IT employees are the most likely compared to other sectors to be planning to explore other job options when the job market improves.
  • More than half (52 percent) of IT employees expect their company to expand its workforce.


The Randstad Engagement Index is comprised of findings from quarterly waves of research targeting employees and annual surveys of employers.
The fourth wave of findings was conducted February 10-20, 2012. A national sample of 3,063 adults aged 18 and older who are currently employed full time from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel were interviewed online. Weighting was used to balance demographics and ensure samples reflect the U.S. population of working adults.
Employees and employers were surveyed to compare notable differences in perceptions and attitudes. Multiple waves of research allow for trending and to track changes in perceptions and attitudes over time. Research into employee attitudes and perceptions will be conducted quarterly. Research into employer attitudes and perceptions will be conducted on an annual basis.