Do Employees Still Trust Their Own Execs?

by Dennis Jacobe, PhD
Gallup Chief Economist

Employee confidence -- like that of investors and consumers -- continued to decline in July, according to the Gallup/UBS Employee Outlook Index survey*. Still, the overwhelming majority of American employees continue to trust in the people who handle the finances and accounting at the companies for which they work. But while they continue to think highly of the executives running their own companies, they do not feel the same way about the people who run most of corporate America.

Employees Rate Their Own Company's Executives Highly

In July, more than eight out of 10 employees working at for-profit companies in the private sector say they have a great deal or a moderate amount of trust in the people who handle the finances and accounting at the companies they work for. This is virtually the same percentage that took this position in April and again in June of 2002.

When asked their opinion of their corporate executives, 83% said that the people who run the company they work for are honest and ethical. This is slightly down from the 86% of employees who held this opinion in April and the 87% who felt this way in June.

Similarly, 75% of employees said that the people who run the companies they work for are good leaders. Again, this is down slightly from 81% in April and 82% in June.

About seven out of 10 employees even say that the people who run the companies they work for are "worth the money they earn." This is a surprisingly high percentage, given the corporate compensation of recent years. It is also not much different from the 71% of employees in April and the 73% in June who told Gallup they felt this way.

Employees Do Not Rate All Executives Highly

While the July survey continues to show that an overwhelming number of employees think highly of those running the companies they work for, they do not feel the same way about corporate executives who run other companies. Only 48% of American employees surveyed said that they believe most corporate executives are honest and ethical. This is down from 54% who expressed this opinion in June.

Similarly, only 59% of employees believe that most corporate executives are good leaders, also down from the 67% in June. And only 36% of employees say that most corporate executives are "worth the money they earn," even less than the 41% of employees who held that view in June.

The Employee Outlook Index Declines

Although most employees continue to trust their corporate leaders, they are becoming somewhat less confident about the business outlook for their companies. The Employee Outlook Index -- a joint venture of Gallup and UBS -- decreased for the third straight month in July, reaching 61 -- down from 66 in June, 69 in May and 72 in April.

*Results for the Employee Outlook Index are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 660 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted July 9-11, 2002, and July 22-24, 2002. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±4%. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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