Workers lose faith in employers

Almost third of New Zealand workers have lost faith in employers. Their confidence has been shattered by reports of corporate failure and misconduct, according to an international survey by global recruitment agency Kelly Services.
The survey also reveals widespread belief that business does not have its employees’ best interests at heart. And it seems that older workers are more disillusioned than younger ones.
The survey is based on the views of more than 5000 workers in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore, with almost 1000 respondents from New Zealand.
The New Zealand@work survey found that 29 percent of employees said revelations about recent business practices had negatively impacted on their trust in employers. On the upside, New Zealand’s negative rating was the lowest of the four countries and compares with 52 percent of Australians, 35 percent of Malaysians, and 34 per- cent of Singaporeans.
The fallout from corporate scandals seems to have had less impact on younger Kiwi workers. Amongst 15-19 year olds, 20 percent stated that corporate failure and wrongdoing had eroded their trust, compared with 26 percent of 20-24 year olds, 26 percent of 25-34 year olds, 27 percent of 35-44 year olds, 34 percent of 44-54 year olds and 36 percent of those aged 55 and over.
The negative view held by females (30 percent) was slightly higher than that by males (28 percent).
“Financial scandals such as Enron and WorldCom and controversy over Air New Zealand and Ansett Airlines have caused ripple effect. They show just how damaging business failure and misconduct can be, not just to those in the organisation directly affected, but to employees across the board,” says Kelly Services regional manager, John Phipps.
“It is particularly disturbing that the actions of just small number of companies and senior executives can impact on workers’ morale and confidence in many other sectors. The human fallout from the recent wave of corporate collapses is greater than many had believed.”
Thirty percent of New Zealand respondents said they did not believe their employers had their “best interests at heart” and only six percent were absolutely positive that they did. New Zealand’s negative response on this issue compared with Australia (47 percent), Singapore (29 percent) and Malaysia (15 percent).
A further question in the survey sought responses to: what makes an “employer of choice” with respondents asked about the importance of an organisation’s reputation, and the factors that contribute to it.
On the question of how important an organisation’s reputation was when it came to choosing an employer, 71 percent of New Zealand workers said reputation very important to them. And the overwhelming factor driving company’s reputation was sound financial performance, with 65 percent ranking this ahead of all other considerations.
The next most important factor cited by employees was the promotion of “ethical behaviour” (13 percent), followed by “a high profile international brand” (nine percent), participation in community activities (four percent), good treatment of employees (also four percent), and technological superiority (two percent).
Factors such as having high profile chief executive, being environmentally aware and sponsoring sporting events hardly rated. “These findings dispel the belief that employees do not care who they work for,” says Phipps.
“When faced with range of attributes, employees and potential employees overwhelmingly judge an organisation by its financial success, with some consideration given to its ethical behaviour. Factors other than these are scarcely relevant to the majority of the workforce.
“It’s possible that many employees believe that if company is financially sound, it is probably doing other things well, and can be relied upon to deliver sustainable growth and job security. Clearly, the findings relating to ‘trust’ and employee welfare show that many organisations have considerable work to do in rebuilding confidence.
“The low level of employee confidence in the corporate sector generally is cause for serious concern because it could contribute to lower productivity, poor morale, and higher turnover of staff,” says Phipps.
For more information on the survey, visit www.kellyservices.com.au

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