We read with great interest the May 3, 2010 press release from Kenexa announcing the finding of their global employee confidence study (Employee Confidence Decreased 8.8% in the First Quarter 2010) saying: “Global employee confidence dropped in March 2010 compared to fourth quarter 2009, according to a recent employee confidence study. The Kenexa Research Institute study found that its employee confidence index score in March was 93.8, a decrease from the score of 98 in Q4 2009.”
These are interesting statistics for countries but we think it is more important to understand if this trend toward globally declining confidence on the part of employees might influence a company’s success and how companies might address issues of employee confidence.
Many studies have compared employee attitudes to employee, business unit and company performance. Some organizations have gone so far as to try (with varied levels of success) to link leadership development programs and executive compensation to overall employee attitudes. The fact is, though, that even unhappy employees or those with “bad attitudes” can be highly productive.
The real issue that connects employees to corporate success is one of trust, far more than employee satisfaction.
In a groundbreaking research study conducted some years ago, Grahall’s Michael Graham found that organizational performance was most highly correlated with one specific question out of 50 that assessed employee attitudes. That singe question was “Do you believe what top management tells you about this company?” Where the answer to that question was positive so was the performance of the company. Where that question was answered in the negative, the company showed poor performance.
If there is a leadership void in trust and belief in what SENIOR management says, then there is work to be done, and quickly. It may not be a matter of leadership deficiency; it may simply be a matter of communication style, frequency or approach.
It is true that employee attitudes are challenging to manage since those attitudes are “owned” by the employee and not by their supervisors, or by human resources. But one thing should not be difficult to manage is the confidence that employees have in what senior management says. All that requires is a track record of truthfulness.
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