05:51 AM

Survey: Bosses are keeping staff in the dark on financial crisis

When I met with Sabrina Horn, the head of Horn Group a couple of weeks ago, she had just gotten out of a meeting with her staff. She discussed the financial crisis with her teams and told them this wasn't the first time her company had faced a downturn and she knew what needed to be done, she finished by saying "Sell like hell!"

I thought that this was a great move because otherwise staff will trade rumors and potential misinformation and lack of real information can be damaging to any enterprise. A new survey shows that not all bosses are the same.

Rick Popko at Weber Shandwick points me to his firm's just released survey:

71% of U.S. Employees Want More Leadership Communications;

54% Have Heard Nothing from the Top

NEW YORK – October 13, 2008 - Working Americans are not hearing from senior leaders in their companies about the implications of the global financial crisis, according to new research released today by global public relations firm Weber Shandwick.

The survey of 514 employed Americans shows that 70% expect the current economic and financial problems in the U.S. will have a negative impact on the company they work for over the course of the next year. Of those, 26% believe their company will have to lay off employees and 62% said that their company would have trouble meeting its goals.

The research highlights a clear deficit in the workplace between employee appetite for more communication on the impact of the economic crisis and the levels at which company leadership is providing information. The research shows that 71% of people felt that their company's leadership should be communicating more about current economic problems, and 54% have not heard from company leaders at all on the impact of the financial crisis on their company. By comparison, 74% said that they had heard colleagues and co-workers talking about the issue.

Of those who had discussed the financial crisis at work, 86% say that senior executives or management were seen as “believable” and “trustworthy” sources on the topic.

. . . "In an age of greater transparency where employees play a vitally important role in shaping a company's reputation both in good times and in bad, their views have an impact that goes far beyond the office or shop floor," said Micho Spring, Chairperson of Weber Shandwick’s U.S. Corporate Practice. "Many companies have highlighted the need to invest in employee communications, and the questions raised by the financial crisis confirm how now, more than ever, employees need to be equipped with information from senior voices in their companies."