The “Great Recession” may have ended, but its impact on the U.S. workforce and employment itself looks to be deep and longlasting, according to the results of new research from global professional services company Towers Watson.

The Global Workforce Study (GWS) — a biennial survey of employee attitudes and workplace trends — confirms that the recession has fundamentally altered the way U.S. employees view their work and leaders today, while dramatically accelerating changes to the basic social contract that underpins employment.

“For many employers, the recession has put the final nail in the coffin of the traditional ‘deal’ that once existed between employees and employers,” said Max Caldwell, a leader of the company’s Talent & Rewards business. “Not only have people seen many coworkers, friends and family members laid off, but they know they are increasingly on their own for everything from health care, to managing their career, to planning for a secure retirement. This represents a profound shift for employees and employers alike.”

How does this lack of loyalty and trust affect your safety and health program? Are you seeing signs of declining employee engagement in safety activities? Declines in safety volunteers?

A startling eight out of 10 respondents want to settle into a job, with roughly half saying they want to work for a single company their entire career and the rest wanting to work for no more than two to three companies.

This move toward workplace “nesting” is no doubt influenced by a perceived dearth of job opportunities, coupled with U.S. employees’ lower appetite for the risks inherent in changing jobs. In fact, more than half (56%) of the U.S. workforce expects little change in the job market over the next year, and over a quarter (28%)