Spotted on the Pragmatic Capitalism site: The Misery Index Falls to an 8 Year Low.
First the chart, then a quick explanation of The Misery Index itself, and finally, of course, some FREE 'expert' commentary on what if anything this kind of data means for HR/Talent pros.
The "Misery" index is the sum of the rate of inflation and the rate of unemployment. It’s name is apropos because a high rate of inflation combined with a high unemployment rate are miserable things to experience. Where is the Misery index currently? It sits at an 8 year low. And perhaps more tellingly, today’s Misery index level of 6.9% is well below the 70 year average of 9.5%
Indicative of improving economic conditions in the USA overall, we see this reflected in the declining rate of the Misery Index. Times may not be great, and the economic recovery is certainly unequally distributed, but certainly for most the worst years of 2008 and 2009 seem pretty far away at this point.
What might the 'Misery' index have to tell the HR/Talent pro?
One thing that comes to mind is that our perception of satisfaction or happiness and even (sorry to use the word again) engagement at work is derived from multiple and complex sources. In HR we talk plenty about engagement rates and trends and voluntary turnover and percentage of job offers accepted, but we usually only talk about these metrics in isolation.
We compare this quarter's engagement rate with last quarter's rate. We look at the trend line in voluntary turnover as if this phenomenon exists in a vacuum, and is not impacted or effected by other business conditions.
We are measuring more things, but probably not getting the deep levels of insight that measurement once promised.
The Misery Index is a crude way to acknowledge this truth, that inflation alone or unemployment alone, don't provide all the answers as to the relative health of an economy, and consequently, the 'misery' of its citizens.
In the workplace, perhaps we should consider our own versions of the Misery Index. Graph disengagement rate AND voluntary turnover rate together and show that to your CEO. Or maybe do a trend line with average annual salary increase against recorded absence rates to see if your 2.3% salary increases are potentially contributing to people checking out.
Misery, (and I think, happiness too), is a complex thing. Thinking about either of them in one dimension leads to shallow understanding and conclusions of limited value.
Plus, what is making me miserable today isn't even on any of these charts. Hint: It NEVER stops snowing where I live.