Economic crisis has negative impact on work attitudes

Photo: archive of Radio Prague

One of the country’s frequently stated assets in attracting foreign investment has been its skilled and relatively cheap work force. However the outcome of a study by consultants Engage Hill suggests that the drawn out economic crisis has had a negative impact on Czechs’ work ethics and the country may be heading for trouble.

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
According to the results of a poll among 800 employees conducted between 2008 and 2013, Czech employees feel increasingly insecure, increasingly underpaid and highly demotivated. Engage Hill which has mapped the attitudes of both generation Y (people between 24 and 38 years of age) and generation X (people between 39 and 53) says that the situation has worsened with every passing year.

As the crisis deepened some companies imposed increasingly unethical practices on their work force and stressed-out employees fought back with the only means at their disposal – doing only as much as was necessary so as not to lose their jobs. According to the analysis, employees’ desire to engage themselves in work which does not bring them personal benefit –such as dealing with future professional goals or discussing common values – has been decreasing year after year. More than 60 percent of employees dislike working overtime and in particular young people –generation Y – are highly dissatisfied with their salaries. While six years ago only 16 percent of generation Y employees refused to work overtime their number has now risen to 44 percent. Twenty-five percent of generation Y respondents said they would not accept a job which involved overtime work. Increasingly young people are demanding more balance between their private and work life and are not willing to sacrifice everything for their company. Among generation X employees, who are more concerned about losing their jobs, 18 percent of workers refuse to put in overtime hours.

Another outcome of the analysis is the fact that individual priorities have begun to outweigh the search for solutions based on common values. The result is an increase of personal conflict and an inclination to negotiate one’s own conditions without respecting the common goals of values of the organization. In many firms cooperation has been replaced by competition and there are increasingly more lone players than teams.

With unemployment at a record high, there is also a deepening divide between generation Y and generation X at the workplace. This regards attitudes to work methods, filling job vacancies and pay. The study warns that potential clashes between those two generations of workers can be potentially very damaging to both firms and employees.

Companies are also encouraged to change their attitude to employees, make them feel valued and meaningful, listen to their arguments and make them feel more than a number on a list of human resourced fulfilling set business goals. The study says that unlike generation X which was employed under the communist regime and is generally more pliant, the young generation has much higher expectations, greater self-esteem and does not respond well to directives, bans and punishment. The role of a modern manager is moving more into the role of a creator and communicator of common values, rather than simply someone who simply distributes and controls tasks, the study concludes.