Finding Upsides in the Deep Recession

The unemployment figures from April played out with a sort of positive spin in many media outlets today: The loss of 539,000 jobs and rise to 8.9% unemployment was “less bad” than many economists anticipated.

While the loss of half a million jobs in a month is not good news, it makes sense that we might seize on some glimmer as a bright side. April’s job loss was the smallest in the last six months!

In the spirit of accentuating the positive, I’m intrigued by a survey released this week that found 7 in 10 workers reported at least one positive career-related result from the current recession.

According to the survey, developed by accounting/finance staffing firm Accountemps, employed respondents said they benefited from tackling new projects (53%) or gaining more responsibility (52%).  Additionally, 12% said they had been promoted.

The low percentage of promotions suggests that the extra work may be unrewarded in many cases.

“While many employees are willing to stick it out during difficult times, companies must be prepared to reward those who have taken on added responsibilities as soon as business conditions improve or risk losing valued staff,” says Max Messmer, CEO of Accountemps’ parent Robert Half International.

Let’s hope every CEO and chief human resources officer hears and heeds his message!

For now, most workers are happy to have jobs, but everyone must make sure that short-term sacrifices — as in pay freezes or cuts — do not turn into long-term setbacks. For more on this, see the article “Will the Recession Deflate Your Income Forever?”

All this good news is making me think about champagne with my canned-soup dinner tonight.