Problems at the Top - Apathy, Contempt for Managers

Major New American Workforce Survey: Majority of Workers Believe Their Bosses

Lack Integrity and Fairness;

37% of Managers Indifferent to Their Company's Fate

Jan 21, 2005, 00:00 ET from Age Wave

    NEW YORK, Jan. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- More than half of American workers
 question the basic morality of their organizations' top leaders and say that
 their managers do not treat them fairly, according to results of a
 just-released, representative, nationwide survey of 7,718 American workers
 aged 18 and over.
     Reacting to ongoing corporate scandals, accelerating outsourcing and
 continued downsizing, only 36 percent of workers said they believed top
 managers acted with honesty and integrity. Even fewer (29 percent) believe
 management cares about advancing employee skills, while one-third of all
 workers feel they have reached a dead end at their jobs.
     Sponsored by 24 leading U.S. companies, the "New Employer/Employee
 Equation Survey" was conducted by Harris Interactive, Inc. for Age Wave, an
 independent think tank that counsels business and government on issues
 impacting an aging society, and The Concours Group, a global consultancy
 advising senior executives.
     "This survey, an unusually broad-based look at today's workforce,
 indicates a dramatic shift in traditional workplace attitudes, preferences,
 needs, and aspirations," said Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D. of Age Wave.
     The wide-ranging "New Employer/Employee Equation Survey" covers workers'
 views on work, engagement in the workplace, benefits, forms of compensation,
 employer competence and integrity, and retirement.
     Facing a growing shortage of qualified workers and an aging workforce,
 employers must move rapidly to develop strategies for dealing with these
 emerging multi-generational workforce issues, the researchers found.
     Other key findings:
      * Small firm employees feel far more engaged in their work than their
        corporate counterparts.
      * Older workers are the most satisfied, the most engaged in their work,
        and the least likely to feel burned out.
      * Younger workers are the most distressed and restless, and they feel the
        least amount of loyalty to their employers.
      * Substantial numbers of employees feel dead-ended and are seeking
        changes at work or new jobs altogether.
      * Job security, health care coverage and professional development are
        valued above additional compensation.
     Age Wave and Concours are currently constructing a model of the new
 segments of the American workforce based on the survey and aimed at helping
 employers understand and engage all of their different types of workers more
 effectively. The authors believe that in the 21st century workplace, the
 ability to manage "diversity" of work style, work stage and attitudes toward
 employment will drive success in recruiting, retaining and motivating the most
 talented and productive employee base.
     "Management gurus talk about the difference between satisfied customers
 and delighted customers," Tamara Erickson, executive vice president of the
 Concours Group, said. "Today, one of the most important things employers can
 do is convert merely satisfied employees into enthusiastic, engaged employees.
 This survey provides many specific indicators of how to do just that, while
 also reengaging management on behalf of the company and its workforce."
     The survey results run counter to long-held beliefs in a number of key
 workplace categories, including:
     Job Satisfaction vs. Engagement
     Across the American workforce, only 45 percent of workers say they are
 satisfied (33 percent) or extremely satisfied (12 percent) with their jobs.
 At the same time, a much lower number actually feel very "engaged" by their
 jobs. Only 20 percent feel very passionate about their jobs; less than
 15 percent agree that they feel strongly energized by their work; and only
 31 percent (strongly or moderately) believe that their employer inspires the
 best in them.
     Managers: Part of the Problem
     Managers were only slightly more positive about the organizations they are
 charged with leading than employees as a whole. While nearly two-thirds
 (63 percent) agree that they care about the fate of their organization -- more
 than one-third, surprisingly, do not. Slightly more than one-third of managers
 surveyed feel that their organizations inspire the best in them or are willing
 to promote their organization as being a great place to work.
     Benefits and Satisfaction
     Given the rising costs of coverage, it's no surprise that one of the major
 issues facing corporate America is providing health coverage to employees.
 The data suggest these pressures are compounded by the fact that overall
 health care coverage is the number one employee priority -- more important
 than future retirement coverage, prescription drug or other benefits. Beyond
 traditional benefits, workers are increasingly seeking jobs that provide them
 with opportunities to learn and to grow.
     Worker Burnout
     Increasing numbers of employees are coping with burnout (42 percent),
 while one-third (33 percent) believe they have reached a dead end in their
 jobs, and 21 percent are eager to change their jobs.
     Burnout will be an especially critical concern for American companies as
 demographers predict that retiring baby boomers will create a shortfall in
 professional and skilled workers over the next five years.
     Firm Size Makes a Difference
     Employees at small firms (49 employees or less) report far greater job
 satisfaction than do employees at large firms. They are more likely to feel
 "energized" by their work (44 percent vs. 28 percent at large firms) and "very
 passionate" about their job (53 percent vs. 36 percent).
     Large firms are much more likely to offer a more robust platter of
 benefits beyond basic compensation than small companies. These include bonus
 compensation (44 percent vs. 24 percent); stock options or grants (50 percent
 vs. 7 percent); retirement savings plan (83 percent vs. 29 percent), annual
 pay raises (74 percent vs. 34 percent), and life insurance (80 percent vs.
 31 percent).
     Despite the more generous benefits provided by large firms, employees of
 smaller companies are much more engaged and are more likely to "really care
 about the fate of this organization" (64 percent of small companies vs.
 47 percent of large firms). They are also more willing to put forth extra
 effort to help the organization succeed (61 percent vs. 43 percent), to agree
 that the organization inspires the best in them (44 percent vs. 24 percent),
 and to say that they would "accept almost any job to keep working here"
 (29 percent vs. 16 percent).
     Retirement Only One Option
     While many workers expect to retire at certain ages (25 percent between
 ages 61 and 65; 16 percent between ages 66 and 75), today a whopping
 34 percent say they NEVER plan to retire.
     Traditional views of retirement are changing dramatically, with many
 planning to keep working in some manner after retiring. Of those, 12 percent
 say they plan to work full-time, 39 percent part-time, and 49 percent to cycle
 back and forth between working and not working. Older workers will provide
 companies with a valuable pool from which to address skill and labor
 shortages. However, organizations will have to rethink how best to attract and
 accommodate these older workers and their preferred work schedules.
     Time Off and Family Life
     Nearly all workers were seeking more time off -- and a better balance
 between work and leisure. When asked which mattered more -- paid maternity
 leave, flexible work schedules, or more paid vacation time -- workers
 overwhelming ranked more paid vacation time as their single biggest desire.
 This response received more than twice as many votes as both a more flexible
 work schedule and paid maternity leave. In addition, as the workforce ages,
 employers will likely have to accommodate their employees' need to spend more
 time with family members, many of whom are older. Twice as many employees
 surveyed were becoming grandparents than having a new child themselves. While
 a third of the workforce (33 percent) is involved with raising children,
 13 percent find themselves empty nesters adjusting to children leaving home.
     The Methodology
     The New Employee/Employer Equation was conducted by Harris Interactive
 from June 2 to June 16, 2004, among a scientifically representative sample of
 7,718 employees 18 and over across the country who worked at least 30 hours
 per week. Many months were required to properly evaluate and analyze the
 massive data. The interviews included overweighted samples of employees of
 large firms (5,000 or more employees), managers, professionals, and of those
 65 and over to yield separate analyses of these workforce segments.
     NOTE TO EDITORS: To obtain the full results of The New Employer/Employee
 Equation or to schedule an interview with Ken Dychtwald, Tamara Erickson or
 Bob Morison, please contact William G. Armstrong Jr. at The Dilenschneider
 Group, 212-922-0900 (
     About Age Wave
     Under the leadership of Founder Dr. Ken Dychtwald, Age Wave guides Fortune
 500 companies and governments in product/service development for boomers and
 mature adults.
     About The Concours Group
     The Concours Group works with senior executives at more than 300 of the
 Global 1000 to master critical issues in management and to turn human capital
 and technological potential into business value.
     About Harris Interactive
     Harris Interactive Inc., the 15th largest and fastest-growing market
 research firm in the world, is a Rochester, N.Y.-based global research company
 that blends premier strategic consulting with innovative and efficient methods
 of investigation, analysis and application. Known for The Harris Poll and for
 pioneering Internet-based research methods, Harris Interactive conducts
 proprietary and public research to help its clients achieve clear, material
 and enduring results.