Towers: Most Workers Believe Their Employer

January 7, 2004 ( - While most employees think their employers are telling the truth, the same number believe their employers are running it through the "spin" cycle first.

More than half (51%) of the 1,000 US workers polled believed what their companies were telling them, with 19% saying they did not always buy into what the corporation communicates. But employees view the truth they’re told different than the truth told to shareholders and customers, which workers say generally gets more honesty from the organization, according to Towers Perrin’s Enhancing Corporate Credibility: Is It Time to Take the Spin Out of Employee Communication? study.

The problem as 51% of the respondents see it, is that their companies try too hard to “spin” the truth and what comes from the top is most likely to be taken with a grain of salt. Most likely to be run through the wash before being disseminated, according to the employees, is the corporate communication surrounding what the company needs from employees and what employees can expect to receive in return. Only half believe employers are forthright about what the organization needs from employees and 39% believe the company is completely open and honest in communicating what the organization offers.

Whatever the case though, the vast majority (90%) claim they are ready to hear the truth about their companies and their jobs.

Varying Degrees

The degree to which employees believe corporate communications varies by age, length of tenure with the organization and pay level. Two-thirds of workers under 35 believe their companies are forthright in their communications, while only 44% of those 50 or older agree with this statement. Tenure also affects the degree to which employees believe corporate communications. More than half (59%) of those surveyed with less than five years of service with their companies believe their organizations are entirely open and honest in employee communications, while less than half (48%) of those with more than five years of service believe the validity of corporate communications to employees.

Income plays a role as well. Fifty-seven percent of workers making more than $100,000 annually believe their organization’s employee communications, while only 44% of those making less than $50,000 per year share that view.

Employees view the information emanating from senior leadership as the least reliable, with almost half (48%) agreeing that they receive more credible information from their direct supervisor than from their company’s CEO. Further, the sample is more likely to believe information about their pay (64%) and benefits (59%) than they are to believe information about company direction and business strategies.

Given the recent spat of high profile corporate governance meltdowns, convention might say the corporate communication distrust is a recent phenomenon, but this is not necessarily the case. While one-third of employees believe the information they receive today is less credible than it was just three years ago, at the same time, another third believe the information they receive from their employer is more credible.