American workers are increasingly cynical and suspicious of information they receive from their own organizations, a new Towers Perrin study shows.

Of the 1,000 U.S. workers polled for the survey, just over half (51 percent) believe their company generally tells employees the truth.

At the same time, 51 percent believe their company tries too hard to "spin" the truth. The survey shows that employees believe their companies communicate more honestly with shareholders (60 percent) and customers (58 percent) than with workers.

The survey, "Enhancing Corporate Credibility: Is It Time to Take the Spin Out of Employee Communication?", also reveals that employees view info coming from senior leadership as the least reliable. Almost half (48 percent) believe they receive more credible information from their direct supervisor than from their company's CEO.

"These results reveal a worrisome employer-employee dynamic that should be a wakeup call to any senior executive or leader who will need to communicate with employees in 2004," says Mark Schumann, Towers Perrin principal. "Regardless of the topic, an organization will find it difficult to motivate, engage and retain their most talented employees if their messages are not believed."

The poll found significant differences in employee perceptions of corporate credibility on different subjects. Survey respondents believe their employer is least open when communicating the fundamental "deal" between the company and employees, specifically what the company needs from employees and what employees can expect to receive in return. More than 90 percent of employees, though, claim they are ready to hear the truth about their companies and their jobs.

Age, tenure and income affect the degree to which employees believe corporate communications. Two-thirds of workers under 35 believe their companies are forthright in their communications, a feeling shared by only 44 percent of those 50 or older.

Fifty-nine percent of employees with less than five years of service with their companies believe their organizations are entirely open and honest in employee communications, while less than half (48 percent) of those with more than five years of service believe the validity of corporate communications to employees.

Fifty-seven percent of workers making more than $100,000 annually believe their organization's employee communications, while only 44 percent of those making less than $50,000 per year share that view.