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Survey: Employee ratings of senior management dip

While employee ratings of senior management shot upward earlier in the decade, those numbers dipped slightly in 2006, a survey by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a leading global consulting firm, has found.

Watson Wyat

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While employee ratings of senior management shot upward earlier in the decade, those numbers dipped slightly in 2006, a survey by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a leading global consulting firm, has found.

Watson Wyatt's WorkUSA 2006/2007 survey of 12,205 full-time U.S. workers across all job levels and major industries showed that senior management's ratings from employees have dropped slightly since 2004. In contrast, many of those ratings had risen considerably from 2002 to 2004.

Only about half of employees said they have trust and confidence in the job senior managers are doing, down from 51 percent in 2004. Fifty-three percent said that senior management makes the changes necessary for the company to stay competitive, down from 57 percent in 2004. And 66 percent of employees said they have confidence in the company's long-term success, down from 69 percent.

"This dip in ratings is concerning because employees' attitudes about their senior leaders are a key factor in building engagement," said Ilene Gochman, national practice director for organization effectiveness at Watson Wyatt. "People want to work for companies where they have confidence in the organization and trust what senior management is doing. Fostering that trust is especially important in today's global market as it creates an environment in which employees understand that changes to the workplace may be necessary to remain competitive."

The survey also found considerable disparities among companies in the frequency of senior management's communication with employees. Forty-three percent of employees reported that their firm's senior management takes an active, visible role in communicating to employees, down from 45 percent in 2004.

"Communication is often thought to be the direct supervisor's role," Gochman said, "but companies can create stronger teams and fuel excitement about the future if senior managers lay out the broad frameworks the firm will follow and supervisors reinforce that message. By engaging employees, such communication has a direct impact on the bottom line."

Watson Wyatt's survey found that highly engaged employees were much more likely to report receiving communication from senior managers at least once a month. More than half (56 percent) of highly engaged employees receive communication from senior management at least monthly. In contrast, 42 percent of low engaged employees say they receive annual communication or no communication at all.