Human Capital & Careers

Dazed and Confused

Many employees are unsure about how their jobs tie in to corporate goals, study of 13,000 workers finds.
Stephen TaubSeptember 11, 2002

Shakeups at many companies — along with shifts in business strategies — have left many employees uncertain about how their jobs tie in to corporate objectives. This, according to a new study of nearly 13,000 workers conducted by Watson Wyatt. The consulting firm asserts that all this confusion could make it more difficult for companies to recover from protracted slumps in business.

Less than half of employees (49 percent) understand the steps their companies are taking to reach new business goals — a 20 percent drop since 2000, according to the study.

The survey also found that most employees do not make the connection between job performance and pay. Only about a third of the respondents said they see a clear link between the quality of their job performance and the money they earn.

“Confusion about corporate goals and uncertainty about the link between pay and performance will complicate economic recovery for many companies,” says Ilene Gochman, Watson Wyatt’s national practice leader for organizational effectiveness and the author of the WorkUSA 2002 survey.

Adds Gochman “This is extremely unfortunate… There is tremendous positive impact to the bottom line when employees see strong connections between company goals and their jobs. Many employees aren’t seeing that connection.”

According to the study, three-year total returns to shareholders (TRS) are three times higher at companies where employees understand corporate objectives and the ways in which their jobs contribute to achieving them.

“Companies cannot develop effective teams and working relationships unless everyone involved clearly understands the connections between their jobs and objectives,” Gochman notes. “Workers and their companies excel when they know why their jobs matter and they understand what’s in it for them.”

Other key findings of the study:

  • Only 45 percent of workers have confidence in the job being done by senior management, down from 50 percent in 2000.
  • Sixty-three percent believe their company conducts business with honesty and integrity.
  • But only 39 percent trust senior leaders at their company.
  • Forty-three percent say their company effectively manages business changes such as downsizing, mergers, restructuring, and expansion.
  • Less than a third believe their company communicates effectively with employees.
  • About one in five say their company involves employees in decisions that affect them.
  • Thirty-two percent say senior management motivates them to perform well.
  • Forty percent see no clear link between their jobs and pay.
  • Forty percent believe that high-performing workers go unrewarded.
  • Forty-three percent say their companies do a good job telling them how their pay is determined.
  • Sixty percent are satisfied with their pay.
  • Forty-nine percent are satisfied with their benefits.