New Zealand Workers Lose Faith In Employers
Almost a third of New Zealand workers have lost faith in employers following recent instances of corporate failure and
misconduct, according to a new international survey.
The survey reveals a widespread belief that business does not have its employees’ best interests at heart. And it
appears that older workers are more disillusioned than younger workers.
The survey, by global recruitment agency Kelly Services, sought the views of more than 5,000 people in New Zealand,
Australia, Malaysia and Singapore, with almost 1,000 of those in New Zealand.
The New Zealand@work survey found that 29 per cent of employees said revelations about recent business practices had
negatively impacted on their trust in employers. However, New Zealand’s negative rating was amongst the lowest of the
four countries and compares with 52 per cent in Australia, 35 per cent in Malaysia, and 34 per cent in Singapore.
The fallout from corporate scandals seems to have had less effect on younger New Zealand workers. Amongst 15-19 year
olds, 20 per cent stated that corporate failure and wrongdoing had eroded their trust, compared with 26 per cent of
20-24 year olds, 26 per cent of 25-34 year olds, 27 per cent of 35-44 year olds, 34 per cent of 44-54 year olds and 36
per cent of those aged 55 and over.
The negative view of females (30 per cent) was slightly higher than for males (28 per cent).
‘Financial scandals such as Enron and World Com and controversy over Air New Zealand and Ansett Airlines have caused a
ripple effect. They show just how damaging business failure and misconduct can be, not just to those in the organisation
directly affected, but to employees across the board, Kelly Services Regional Manager, John Phipps said.
‘It is particularly disturbing that the actions of just a small number of companies and senior executives can impact on
workers’ morale and confidence in many other sectors. It indicates the human fallout from the recent wave of corporate
collapses is greater than many had believed.’
The survey also asked respondents whether they believed that most companies had their employees’ ‘best interests at
A total of 30 per cent of New Zealand respondents said they did not. Only 6 per cent were absolutely positive that most
companies do have employees’ best interests at heart. New Zealand’s negative response on this issue compared with
Australia (47 per cent), Singapore (29 per cent) and Malaysia (15 per cent).
A further question in the survey sought responses to what makes an ‘employer of choice’, with respondents asked about
the importance of an organisation’s reputation, and the factors that contribute to it.
The New Zealand leg of the survey found that 71 per cent of workers said the reputation of an organisation was very
important to them.
The overwhelming factor driving a company’s reputation was sound financial performance, with 65 per cent ranking this
ahead of all other considerations.
The next most important factor cited by employees was the promotion of ‘ethical’ behaviour’ (13 per cent). This was
followed by ‘a high profile international brand’ (9 per cent), participation in community activities (4 per cent), good
treatment of employees (also 4 per cent), and technological superiority (2 per cent).
Perhaps surprisingly, other factors including a high profile chief executive, environmental awareness and sponsorship of
major sporting events all rated very low.
‘These findings dispel the belief that employees do not care who they work for,” said Mr Phipps.
‘When faced with a range of attributes, employees and potential employees overwhelmingly judge an organisation by its
financial success, with some consideration given to its ethical behaviour. Factors other than these are scarcely
relevant to the majority of the workforce.
‘It’s possible that many employees believe that if a company is financially sound, it is probably doing other things
well, and can be relied upon to deliver sustainable growth and job security.
‘Clearly, the findings relating to ‘trust’ and employee welfare show that many organisations have considerable work to
do in rebuilding confidence.
‘The low level of employee confidence in the corporate sector generally is a cause for serious concern because it could
contribute to lower productivity, poor morale, and higher turnover of staff,” said Mr Phipps.