U.S. employers are stepping up their communication to workers about their financial performance and solvency to help alleviate growing levels of stress and anxiety caused by the recession, according to new research.
More than three-quarters of employer respondents to a recent survey by Watson Wyatt said they have already or are planning to send out communication on the impact of the financial crisis. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of these employers cited easing employee anxiety as one of the top two goals of their crisis-related internal communication, while nearly one-third (32 percent) cited earning employees' trust.
Watson Wyatt's survey, Communicating to Employees During the Current Financial Crisis, was conducted in December 2008 and includes responses from 92 employers.
According to employers, job security and company performance and solvency are at the top of employees’ concerns. While 80 percent of employers who are communicating about the financial crisis noted that they have already sent messages to employees about company performance and solvency, only 38 percent have communicated about job security.
"Employers clearly understand the impact the financial crisis is having, not only on their business but on their employees as well," said Kathryn Yates, global director of communication consulting at Watson Wyatt. "With no end in sight to the recession, communicating regularly with employees will be critical for companies to keep their workers engaged and productive."
Employees have good reason to be concerned. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons increased by 2.7 million, and the unemployment rate rose by 1.7 percentage points, according to a December 2008 Bureau of Labor Statistics release.
There might be an additional plus to keeping employees up-to-date with your financial status.
“In tough times, employees can be very resourceful,” says Brenda McChriston, SPHR, of Spectrum HR Solutions, a Baltimore consultancy. “They may come up with ideas to cut costs that no one else thought of.”
Rita Zeidner is senior writer for HR Magazine.