After nearly two years of pandemic, Americans are still optimistic: Ruder Finn FutureThink Index

The study, the first of a planned quarterly report, measured how Americans think about the future and the role business leaders play in shaping that outlook.

After nearly two years of pandemic, Americans are still optimistic: Ruder Finn FutureThink Index

NEW YORK: Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are optimistic about the future, according to Ruder Finn's first FutureThink Index study.

Americans leaned positive when asked about their experiences in the last year, with 48% saying they had a positive year, and only 15% of Americans saying they had a bad or terrible year.

The study, which sampled 2,000 respondents across demographics around the country, is the first in a quarterly analysis that will measure how Americans think about the future and the role business leaders play in shaping that outlook. 

"With all this doom and gloom that we've been facing for going on two years, I was extremely encouraged that the American Dream is not dead," said Ruder Finn CEO Kathy Bloomgarden. "So we wanted to look more closely at what was underpinning that." 

The FutureThink Index explored the relationship that respondents have with their employer and healthcare and technology providers, and measured the importance of what Ruder Finn calls the "transparency, dialogue and knowledge (TDK) factor."

The study found that 82% of respondents with high TDK connection think the future of their career looks better, compared to only 52% of people with medium TDK connection and 31% of people with low TDK connection. 

The differences are even more obvious when looking at health, where a similar 82% of Americans with high TDK connection think the future looks better, compared to only 43% of people with medium and 24% of people with low TDK connection.

The study found that business leaders can shape stakeholder behaviors by building stronger TDK, particularly with younger demographics. Younger generations feel less connected to their employers, with 57% of GenXers feel high TDK compared to 49% of millennials and 26% of GenZ 

However, respondents with high TDK are also more willing to leave their companies to find what they're looking for, with 92% more likely to find a job they fit better. 

Leaning on a company's communications team is key to increasing the TDK factor, according to Bloomgarden. 

"The communications function is essential to achieving TDK leadership modality because when you're being transparent about vaccinations or business portfolios, you can have a greater degree of dialogue with stakeholders," she said.  

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