Season of Our Discontent

Recent surveys indicate the degree to which workers are discontented in the wake of company decisions to cut staff, freeze salaries and similar steps taken in response to the recession.
Sixty percent of employees intend to leave their firms as the economy improves; an additional 27 percent are networking or have updated their resumés, according to a survey of 904 workers in North America conducted in November by Right Management.
A November survey of 1,627 employed executives conducted by Finnegan Mackenzie and ExecuNet found more than 90 percent of executives would take an executive recruiter’s call and more than 50 percent are looking for a new job.

“Employees are clearly
expressing their pent-up
frustration with how they
have been treated through
the downturn.”

Among 525 survey respondents at firms with 1,000 or more employees, about 45 percent reported that employee “engagement” had decreased a little or a lot at their organization since the recession began. Nearly 27 percent said engagement had stayed the same, and 28 percent said it had increased, Workforce Management reported in September.
A survey of 1,300 workers at large U.S. companies found that engagement levels for top performers fell close to 25 percent by May 2009. Employees overall experienced a 9 percent drop in engagement, Watson Wyatt Worldwide reported.
“Employees are clearly expressing their pent-up frustration with how they have been treated through the downturn,” said Douglas Matthews, president of Right Management. “While employers may have taken the necessary steps to streamline operations to remain viable, it appears many employees may have felt neglected in the process. The result is the disengaged and disgruntled workforce.”

Pharmaceutical Prices Up

Even as drug makers promise to shave $8 billion a year off the nation’s drug costs, the industry has been raising its prices at the fastest rate in years, according to a special report by Allen Brisson-Smith for The New York Times.
In the past year, the industry has raised wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs by about 9 percent, according to industry analysts. That

adds more than $10 billion to the nation’s drug bill, which was on track to exceed $300 billion in 2009. By at least one analysis, it is the highest annual rate of inflation for drug prices since 1992.
Drug companies say they have to raise prices to maintain the profits necessary to invest in research and development of new drugs as the patents on many of their most popular drugs are due to expire over the next few years. Critics say the industry is trying to establish a higher price base before Congress passes legislation that tries to curb drug spending in coming years.
Recent price increases basically cancel out anticipated savings under the first year of the Senate health finance agreement, and possibly longer, analysts say. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry would gain about 30 million customers with drug insurance from the legislation pending in Congress.

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