Sneak Peek: The Hospital Leader blog – Nov. 2017

Less job security, fewer employer-paid benefits than in previous generations


What we expect and what we get from work

Are American workers becoming happier with less? An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal reported on the findings of a recent survey of U.S. workers by the Conference Board, a research organization. Although the survey wasn’t specific to health care, much less to hospitalists, I see some parallels that might cause many of us to stop and think more carefully about what we expect from our work.

Leslie Flores

Leslie Flores

The Conference Board’s findings highlight how American workers’ employment relationships are evolving and how that is affecting what Americans think of as a “good” job. The biggest shift has come in the nature of the implied compact between workers and their employers; unlike a generation or two ago, U.S. workers no longer expect to receive generous benefits and lifelong employment in exchange for hard work and loyalty. In fact, I suspect many younger workers today would face the prospect of lifelong employment with a single company with distaste, if not outright horror.

American workers today tend to have less job security and fewer employer-paid benefits than they did in previous generations. A companion graphic in the WSJ reported that, while in 1973 only 6% of Americans said they worked too many hours and 7% said they had trouble completing their work in the time allotted, by 2016 26% said they often worked more than 48 hours a week and half said they work during their free time at least periodically. Two-thirds of Americans now say they need to spend at least half of their day working at high speeds or meeting tight deadlines.

Yet, despite these trends, the Conference Board found that overall, U.S. workers are more satisfied with their jobs than they have been in the past. The WSJ article posits that workers are happier at work because they have adjusted to lower expectations of the employer-employee relationship. In addition, workers have more flexibility today to change jobs or companies to find the right fit or pursue advancement, and often have more influence over when, where, and how they do their jobs than ever before. Many are working as temps or independent contractors, or in similar “contingent” arrangements. Finally, more employers are offering a wider array of tools to aid with work-life balance, such as paid medical and family leave.

So what does all this have to do with hospitalists?

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