The Thing to Fear? … Fear Itself

July 9, 2009 ( - One in every three employees of companies in the United States and the United Kingdom is fearful of losing his or her job, according to a recent survey by change management consulting firm Stromberg Consulting and conducted by Braun Research.

Though more than half of workers in the U.S. and 40% in the U.K. who say they are fearful also say they are working harder as a result, the survey suggests that fear in the workplace could hinder economic recovery as it impacts risk taking, decisionmaking and customer service.

According to a press release, the survey finds that across all levels of an organization, smart risk-taking and timely decisionmaking behaviors are stifled by fears of a worsening economy. A significant portion of employees of U.S. and U.K. companies who fear job loss say they are afraid to take risks.

One-quarter of employees of U.S. companies believe fear is delaying critical business decisions, and when decisions are finally made, only half of employees believe managers and senior leaders are making the right decisions to position their organizations for economic recovery.

Customer service has also been affected by worried employees, the press release said. According to the survey, one in 10 fearful employees say they are less enthusiastic about servicing customers. In addition, almost two-thirds of those who report little to no fear are willing to recommend their company’s products and services, compared to 37% of those who report high levels of fear.

Corporate reputation is also being damaged by fear. Only one-third of fearful employees would recommend their companies to others as an enjoyable place to work, compared to half of those with little to no fear. Also, employees who strongly fear losing their jobs are more likely to have (and share) negative views about their company’s futures.

The survey was conducted by Braun Research via phone April 3-10, 2009, among 501 employed adults in the U.S. and 503 employed adults in the U.K.