Attitudes aren't all that great inside corporate America - not surprising, perhaps, given the bad economy and boardroom scandals. Still, it's hard to succeed in safety when trust levels are low, communication poor and employees shut out of decision-making, which is the case in most companies these days, according to a poll conducted earlier this year, Watson Wyatt's WorkUSA(tm) 2002.

Only about one in three employees (39 percent) trust senior leadership at their company. Less than 20 percent have a say in decision-making.

Think you have trouble communicating your safety goals? Take a look at the bigger picture. The survey found that 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.

It pays to communicate. 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.

Do your employees understand your safety objectives, and how their jobs contribute to achieving them?

The WorkUSA survey also examines aspects of corporate culture such as employee trust levels, effective business change management, communication, performance management and worker attitudes towards pay and benefits.

Culture pays - when its crafted correctly. Companies that instill trust, manage business changes effectively and communicate openly with employees have much higher shareholder return rates than companies that don't, according to the survey.

Key findings

Percentage of workers who:

  • Have confidence in the job being done by senior management - 50% (2000) 45% (2002);
  • Believe their companies conduct business with honesty and integrity - 68% (2000) 63% (2002).
  • Trust senior leaders at their firms - N/A (2000) 39% (2002).
  • Say their companies effectively manage business changes such as downsizing, mergers, restructuring, expansion -N/A (2000) 43% (2002).
  • Believe their companies communicate effectively with employees - N/A (2000) 32% (2002).
  • Say their companies involve employees in decisions that affect them - 27% (2000) 19% (2002).
  • Are satisfied with their pay -N/A (2000) 60% (2002).

WorkUSA is one of the largest and most current statistically representative surveys on the attitudes of U.S. workers. The 2002 survey includes responses from 12,750 workers at all job levels and in all major industries. Watson Wyatt & Company, the primary subsidiary Watson Wyatt & Company Holdings (NYSE: WW), is an international human capital consulting firm.