One Foot Out the Door: How to Combat the Psychological Recession That's Alienating Employees and Hurting American Business
by Judith M. Bardick, Ph.D., AMACOM, 240 pages, $24.95 Hardcover, October 2007, ISBN 9780814480588
Giving Notice: Why the Best and the Brightest Leave the Workplace and How You Can Help Them Stay
by Freada Kapor Klein, Jossey-Bass, 240 pages, $27.95 Hardcover, October 2007, ISBN 9780787998097
Two books out this fall address a serious issue facing employers: a nation of disengaged workers. In June I wrote about Off-Ramps and On-Ramps
, a book that challenged the current career model and its shortcomings for women--and, consequently, a major brain drain in this country's businesses. These two books, One Foot Out the Door
and Giving Notice
, delve deeper into the reasons all types of employees are feeling dissatisfied in their work, and draw attention to a growing problem that has the potential to shape new generations entering the workforce.
In One Foot Out the Door
, Judith M. Bardwick, a former professor of psychology and now a highly-regarded management consultant, begins by giving an overview of the economic ups and downs of the past half-century. She points to the economic recessions of the late '70s and early '80s as the time when our economy's unwritten "social contract"--employees work hard and employers take care of them--fell apart. As cutbacks were made, work was outsourced and people were laid off, the workforce became disengaged and discouraged as they saw their job security vanishing before their eyes.
Today, the author claims, as many as two thirds of American workers are in what she calls a psychological recession: "an emotional state in which people feel extremely vulnerable and afraid for their futures...[and] expect the worst to happen, so they see no reason to give it their all." They're either actively looking for new jobs or are going through the motions in current positions. Bardwick calls for a "twenty-first century safety net that will reduce the fear by providing financial support and a good sense of community, while avoiding a reinstatement of entitlement attitudes."
On another front, Freada Kapor Klein, co-founder of the Level Playing Field Institute, looks into discrimination that drives knowledge workers out of the well-intentioned corporations that don't fully realize the assumptions and stereotypes that continue to plague their corporate culture.
To show the cost of bias, financial and human, and to bring to life the types of discrimination and unfair treatment many people face, the author profiles three fictional characters "as they negotiate life in a high-end corporate workplace." Then, she offers a framework corporate leaders can follow to identify and uproot those barriers.
If you're looking for ways to recruit or retain talented people, both Bardwick and Klein offer strategic, smart suggestions for establishing a workplace that is welcoming to a diverse set of people and committed to their job satisfaction and growth.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.