Area pay raises likely to fall behindRaises for Baltimore...

WORKPLACE & CAREERS

September 11, 1992|By Kim Clark

Area pay raises likely to fall behind

Raises for Baltimore area workers next year may lag behind those for workers elsewhere, a survey predicts.

William M. Mercer Inc., a human resources consulting firm, found that among Baltimore managers who expect to give raises next year, increases would average 4.3 percent. That's lower than the national average of 4.8 percent for all raises.

And that's below the expected increases the executives are budgeting for themselves: 4.7 percent.

Though the predictions of pay increases are a hopeful sign, the survey released this month by the Washington, D.C., company found another troubling trend:

Almost one in 10 employers nationwide expects to either freeze salaries or defer pay increases next year -- twice as many as last year.

Workers offered a separate ladder

As businesses downsize, fewer workers can climb their way up to be bosses. So employers are searching for new ways to reward workers.

One idea that's hot in management circles: Dual career ladders.

The standard career path, from worker to management, is getting narrower and hasn't always served companies well anyway, says Deborah Hoskinson, human resources manager for Greiner Inc., an engineering firm headquartered in Timonium.

When engineers are promoted to managers, they aren't always prepared for the task. "They might be a great bridge designer" and they've had years of specialized schooling, but many "have had no management classes," she says. "It's definitely a problem."

So now Greiner and many other firms are considering an alternative for professional and technical workers: from entry level to something like "team leader" to, say, "senior professional."

That way, the worker continues to develop in his or her profession, without switching over to a purely administrative or supervisory role.

A survey of 107 large employers by Hewitt Associates found that 61 percent have set up dual career ladders -- more than a third of the career alternatives are less than five years old.

And the Illinois-based management consultant said the managers who offer the alternatives report improved worker retention and morale.

The survey doesn't say whether dual career ladders allow companies to escape the "Peter Principle" -- which holds that every employee tends to rise to his or her level of incompetence.

Many working more, enjoying it less

Office workers care less but work more these days.

Fewer workers are defining their success in life as success at their jobs.

Slightly more than half of the office workers questioned in a recent survey say there is a strong connection between doing their job well and achieving goals in life. That's down from 62 percent in 1978.

But the survey by Steelcase Inc., an office furniture company, found that the office workers nevertheless are working harder. Their managers, however, might still be dissatisfied.

Forty-eight percent of the office workers interviewed said they were doing as much as they could at work. While that makes one wonder about the other 52 percent, it's an improvement over the 1978 rate, when 42 percent of the workers were giving their all.

Some fresh ideas about finding work

Dave Swanson, a member of the "What Color is Your Parachute?" team, is coming to the University of Baltimore Sept. 24 to give a free presentation on getting a job.

Mr. Swanson, who travels the country giving seminars on creative job hunting, said his talk doesn't vary from place to place, but he's changed it somewhat in the past few years.

"The job market is the worst I've seen in 35 years," he says. "And it is going to be even tougher" in the future, he adds.

Even people with jobs shouldn't feel secure, he said. Corporate restructurings are tossing unprecedented numbers of people into unemployment lines.

He tells audiences of job holders they have to pay attention because they'll need to know "when this [a layoff or firing] happens to you. . . . It is not a matter of if."

But Mr. Swanson tempers his pessimism with the belief that finding a good job "is easy" if done the right way.

He tells people to:

* Focus their job searches in growing industries, such as those associated with cellular telephones or computers.

* Evaluate their talents, skills and aptitudes. "They are far more numerous than you give yourself credit for," he says.

* Market themselves as they would a product. Don't bother with mass resume mailings. Instead, narrow the alternatives to a few individuals and fields.

"You should do the exact opposite of what the public perceives to be true," he says.

Call University of Baltimore's student activity line, at 625-3099 for more information.

Europeans glum about their jobs

Europeans' job satisfaction appears to be declining.

Manpower Inc., the temporary services agency, reported that a polling outfit, European Values Group, had workers rate their job satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10. The French gave their workplaces a 6.8 -- the lowest of any European nationality, and a 3 percent decline from 1981.

Dutch workers' job happiness fell the farthest -- dropping 10 percent to reach a rating of 7.8.

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