Study: Employees unsure what their companies represent

A company's mission and values are critical, found a Zeno Group study.

NEW YORK: Before taking stands on social causes, brands should look at their own missions and values. A new study from Zeno Group called "Barriers to Employee Engagement" found that many people aren’t sure what their employers stand for.

Using an online survey, Zeno queried 4,500 employees in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Singapore. The study found that almost 40% of those surveyed are worried about their company’s mission and values.

Also, a significant number of employees say they’re unsure what their company represents. In the U.S., 30% felt that way, as did 32% in Canada, 37% in the U.K., and 54 % in Singapore.

"What we were looking at is the idea that, in the current environment, people are actually questioning what these companies are standing for," said Mark Shadle, MD of Zeno global corporate affairs. "Our takeaway is that a mission and values are critical. They are the underpinning and the bedrock of a company’s culture and decision making. And if those values are in question, is that company’s communications on stable ground?"

The study also found that employees care more about values as their personal and professional obligations increase. Parents, the study found, were 37% more concerned about company values than non-parents. Millennial parents, who were managers, were 55% more likely to have concerns.

Shadle said the point of the study was to get past issues like compensation and give internal comms people some solid research to use in addressing the topics employees are concerned about.

"We this research is going to inform the conversation and give comms people, their HR teams, and management some different perspectives to think about and also offer ideas and ways to work towards solutions," Shadle said.

A lot of current research focuses on employee satisfaction and benefits, he added.

"We saw a gap to explore some of most pressing issues for employees working today and determining if anything can be done about them," said Shadle.

Other issues explored by the study include automation, work-life balance, and information overload.

In the U.S., roughly one-third of workers said they are concerned about losing their job to technology, 57% were stressing about work-life balance, and 44% said information overload was a problem.

The numbers could be a wakeup call for corporate leaders who are publically touting the benefits of efficiency and automation.

"If you’re a CEO at Davos and talking all about automation, a big question is what [are you] saying to employees who are concerned?" said Shadle. "There should be strategy as to what you’re saying and doing."

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