Thursday, July 23, 2009

May Ye Never Be "Marginally Attached"

Years ago, business consultants created the buzzphrase "engaged workers" to describe the level of enthusiasm and loyalty employees had for their organizations' business and senior management. To be engaged was to be beyond motivated. An engaged worker understood the mission of a company and gave 110% to help the company accomplish it. And, of course, the consultants—for a price—could not only measure the engagement levels of employees but train them to become engaged. It was (still is) a handy piece of English for managers to flaunt during performance reviews, and when choosing whom to lay off next.

Now comes a new bit of buzz out of the U.S. Labor Department: "marginally attached" workers. Only they're not workers since they're not considered part of the workforce; they're not even really part of the unemployed ranks. They're the folks who have been unemployed and are giving up the search for a new job. The marginally attached include former workers who have chosen to return to school, have become a caregiver to a relative, and those who are too sick to search.

The good news is that the Labor Dept. is recognizing this trend. The bad news, of course, is that any one of us could end up adrift in the trend. This brings to mind a line from Ouida's A Village Commune: "Take hope from the heart of a man and you make him a beast of prey."

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