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Security Blanket

Terrorists changed your employees. It's up to you to provide the nurturing.

This story appears in the March 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Everyone was moved by the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. But September 11 was a knee-bending, one-two punch for employees already reeling in a softening economy beset by worthless stock options and a climbing unemployment rate. The attacks--which occurred so publicly and at one of America's best-known business addresses--have left many employees re-examining the reasons why they do what they do for a living, and at what cost. Since September 11, time off the clock has taken on new meaning. Suddenly, not letting employees telecommute or leave an hour early to watch their children play T-ball can make you look less than human.

In the post-September 11 workplace, "work-life balance is no longer seen as a dream but as a right," says Richard Donkin, a workplace historian and author of Blood, Sweat & Tears: The Evolution of Work (Texere). Roughly 82 percent of 1,800 employees surveyed last fall by Aon Consulting's Loyalty Institute said they are reassessing their priorities and trying to devote more time to their personal lives. The brass rings that employees used to value in exchange for long workdays--money and fancy titles--don't mean as much as they did just one year ago. According to a Society for Human Resource Management survey done after the attacks, some workers are turning down promotions they've already accepted, and employees seem less worried about going beyond the call of duty to prove themselves--even though unemployment is at a four-year high.

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