Employers and the American Dream

Results from a new survey reveal that U.S. workers are disenfranchised when it comes to achieving the American Dream and trusting government leaders.
By: | January 31, 2018 • 2 min read
American Dream

Do you trust the leadership abilities of the current presidential administration? If you answered “no,” you’re not alone. According to a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder, approximately three-quarters of respondents (76 percent) don’t believe in the leadership capabilities of the executive branch.

This lack of confidence doesn’t stop with the executive branch. A whopping 87 percent don’t believe in the leadership capabilities of the legislative branch followed by 79 percent who don’t believe in the leadership capabilities of the judicial branch.

The survey, which polled 809 full-time employees across numerous industries in the private sector, was conducted to show employers what U.S. workers think about the country’s leadership and the American Dream, says Rosemary Haefner, CHRO at CareerBuilder.com.

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“For the past 14 years, we have looked at a variety of issues to help employers and employees tackle virtually every employment issue,” she says. “Through this survey specifically, we wanted to show what U.S. workers thought about the leaders of our country, what the American Dream means to them and how they feel about their shot of achieving it.”

The American Dream responses are bleak—less than half of the respondents feel that they’re living it (47 percent). Women were more likely than men to report that they aren’t livin’ the dream (41 percent vs. 54 percent, respectively).

What does the American Dream mean to U.S. workers? The top three responses include: Making enough money for me and my family to live comfortably (85 percent), being able to help others (48 percent) and getting a great education and providing that opportunity for my family (35 percent).

Some of the perceived barriers to the American Dream were:

  • Cost of education (58 percent)
  • Cycles of poverty (53 percent)
  • Wage gaps (52 percent)
  • Inequality (among women, minorities, etc. [51 percent])
  • Access to education (41 percent)
  • Lack of belief that things can be better (34 percent)

“We found that less than half of workers feel like they’re living the American Dream,” she says. “In today’s tight job market, employers need to think about what they are doing to retain top talent. Options like raising pay, giving more vacation time or offering more benefits may come to mind, but just as important as these tactics is thinking about what your leaders are doing to career path and coach employees throughout their career. Engaged employees may feel more loyal to their company and its goals.”

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She notes that these results highlight the need for strong leaders who can train engaged employees. These highly-motivated employers then become high-performers, which can only benefit a business’ bottom line.

“HR needs to ensure leaders at their organization have the necessary characteristics that will help their teams succeed,” Haefner adds. “Good leaders must be transparent, communicate well and be empathetic. They need to be centered, have courage and be flexible. They also need to be resilient—sometimes being a leader can be lonely, but the best ones do not succumb to pressure and have the strength and patience to lead a team toward their company’s larger goals.”

Danielle Westermann King, staff writer for HRE, received her bachelor’s degree in English from Temple University. She has written and edited articles for various print and online healthcare publications and is now setting her sights on human resources. She can be reached at [email protected]