America set to clock off for Obama

Jan 19 2009 by Nic Paton Print This Article

American managers should not expect too much out of their staff from noon tomorrow [Tues].

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, many employers have taken the (probably wise) decision to allow their workers to watch the inauguration of President Barack Obama on their work computers or TVs, rather than risk having a mutiny on their hands.

And, with today [Monday] being the commemoration of Martin Luther King's birthday Ė a day many particularly black Americans book in as holiday anyway Ė many workers have simply arranged time off well in advance to ensure they can watch the momentous occasion undisturbed.

Restaurants and bars (as well as churches) are also expecting to see an influx of people to watch the historic events unfold.

Many of those who work or own shops within 50 blocks of the inauguration, where there will be an intense security lock-down, have told local news organisations they intend either to sleep in the office or simply stay away.

Obama's inauguration is also bringing with it a renewed sense of hope for many American workers who have spent much of the past 12 months being battered and buffeted by the grim economic conditions.

According to a poll by recruitment firm Adecco, more than two thirds of workers feel and desperately hope that Obama's presidency will be good for the jobs' market.

The survey of more than 2,000 workers found that the top priority for nearly seven out of 10 Americans right now was simply holding on to their job.

A similar number believed the current downturn will last for the whole of this year or even longer.

Yet, worryingly, barely a quarter said they were managing to put money aside in the event of being laid off and a fifth were delaying their retirement because of the economic situation.

Unsurprisingly, just 13 per cent workers said they were currently looking for another job.

Despite the grim times, fewer than a fifth said they would be willing to take a pay cut to keep their job and, in fact, more than half were expecting a raise this year, despite only a quarter feeling they were actually working harder now than a year ago.

"Workers across America are very concerned about their job stability, yet many are not taking any measures to keep their jobs secure or prepare for the worst," warned Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer of Adecco North America.

"Now more than ever, it is critical for workers to think about ways they can become that key employee that their company cannot afford to lose," she added.

The company advised workers to work on becoming more high-profile problem solvers at work and to think more strategically, so making it harder for your boss to let you go.

It recommended putting in (and being seen to put in) extra hours to "wow" your boss, to raise your game when it came to networking, both inside and outside the company and to offer to take on more responsibility.

It was also a good simply to take time out to identify your goals for the coming year, what you want from work, what you want to achieve and what new ideas or skills you might be able to bring to work, either in your current role or elsewhere.