Senior IT staff 'fear the axe'

New research points to a nation of worried employees, with mid to senior IT staff the most at risk from redundancy

Many British employees are very sceptical about their future with a third expecting the UK to head into recession. One in five of the entire workforce feel at risk of redundancy. In the last 12 months, 39 percent have experienced redundancy directly or through close friends or family. The figures are based on interviews with 1000 British employees aged between 18 and 65, for the survey Ready for Redundancy by HR consultancy Chiumento. The objective was to examine attitudes of the workforce to redundancy at a time when recession-led job loss is increasing. By sector, the IT workforce has been hardest hit, with senior and mid-level managers most at risk (20 and 19 percent respectively) of losing their jobs, compared to junior staff who face a 14 percent risk. Of those interviewed who had experienced redundancy, 26 percent worked in computing, 24 percent in manufacturing, 19 percent in finance, while 12 percent worked in education and 11 percent in health. Geographically, more workers in London (30 percent) and the South East (29 percent) say they would find it harder to get another job than workers in the South West (15 percent), East Anglia (19 percent) and Scotland (15 percent). Workers in East Anglia are the most optimistic about the economy with 26 percent believeing the UK is emerging from the recession. In terms of gender, 38 percent of women believe they would get another job quite easily; slightly more than the 26 percent of men who believed they would find new employment quite easily. The study showed that the larger the company, the bigger the risk of redundancy. Fifty-three percent of people had recently been made redundant worked for companies with more than 250 employees. Furthermore, 29 percent of employees who work for organisations with over 100 staff are seeing their company downsize, compared to 12 percent of people who work for companies with less than 100 employees. More than a third (35 percent) of the working population have been made redundant one or more times. On the positive side there is less stigma attached to redundancy than there once was. Respondents were twice as likely (44 percent) to view redundancy as a fact of life than as a humiliating experience (23 percent). Attitudes to towards redundancy can be summed up as those who see it as a fresh start (37.6 percent); those who are pragmatic about it (19.8 percent); and those who are devastated (18.5 percent); angry (12 percent); or depressed (8.2 percent). Just under 4 percent say they would find redundancy a "relief". An interim HR director for a large retail organisation commented: "The nature of redundancy has certainly changed over the years. Redundancies are now hitting white collar organisations where once they were mainly the preserve of blue collar workers." He said this is partly linked to the way companies have over-expanded, for example in the financial and telecoms sectors, where many companies had grown to cope with anticipated demand. In the current economic climate, they are obliged to shrink to a more realistic size, and in many cases the only option is mass layoffs.

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