Senior Execs Mum about Economy; Workers Want More Info

October 22, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | PR

Though 70% of US employees think that the global financial crisis will have a negative impact on the company they work for, only 54% said they had heard anything from management about what effect it would have, according to a survey from Weber Shandwick.

Of those who think the financial crisis will adversely affect their company, 26% believe their company will have to lay off employees and 62% said their company would have trouble meeting its goals.

Among workers surveyed, 74% said that they had heard colleagues and co-workers talking and speculating about the economic situation and 35% said they heard senior executives talking about it. Still, 71% felt that their company’s leadership should be communicating more about current economic problems.


Of those who had discussed the financial crisis at work, 86% say that senior executives or management were seen as “believable” and “trustworthy” sources on the topic.

The research highlights a deficit in the workplace between employee appetite for more communication on the impact of the economic crisis and the levels at which company leadership is providing information, Weber Shandwick said.

“At a time when working Americans are concerned about their personal finances, their jobs and the overall economy, employees are looking for credible, candid information, and right now too few business leaders are filling the information void that exists,” said Harris Diamond, CEO of Weber Shandwick. “Employers have a great opportunity to communicate with their workforce about the impact of the economic situation on their companies as well as on employees.”

In contrast to the Weber Shandwick results, a quarterly CEO study conducted by Management Action Programs Inc. (MAP)? and Vantage Research? found that business leaders believe they are taking steps designed to boost confidence in their organization and inspire productivity. Though they view communications as important, they see financial rewards as the top way to do this.

When CEOs were asked to choose the most effective ways to motivate, the respondents’ top three picks included “financial rewards/benefits,” “communications/keeping employees informed,” and a “quality of workplace culture,” according to the MAP survey.

“Low employee morale, regardless of its cause, is infectious, and company leaders must take proactive steps to improve their employees’ outlook,” said Lee Froschheiser, president/CEO of MAP. “Interestingly, the majority of the CEOs who have experienced a drop in their employees’ morale have also rated revenue growth as their number-one priority. But to support growth objectives, these business leaders need their employees to be fully aligned to the goals.”

Other MAP findings:

  • Workers are staying put, as 77% of CEOs say their companies are not experiencing high levels of voluntary turnover.
  • CEOs are seeking ways to contain costs, focusing on cost containment as much as revenue growth.
  • Company leaders predict the beginnings of economic recovery in late 2009. Since January 2008, optimism about a recovery has waned, according to previous quarterly MAP surveys.

About the Weber Shandwick survey: The national representative survey of adults, ages 18 and older, was commissioned by Weber Shandwick and conducted by KRC Research, between October 3 – 6, 2008.


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