COVID-19: Employees believe leaders are 'failing' to manage the crisis

Most feel companies are still prioritising profits over its people

COVID-19: Employees believe leaders are 'failing' to manage the crisis

Despite an increase in trust in business leaders and several high-profile actions taken by companies and CEOs to aid individuals amid COVID-19, a new study revealed employees’ doubt over their leaders’ crisis management capabilities.

Most employees believe companies are ‘doing poorly’ at managing the crisis and should proactively work with the government to sustain the organisation.

Less than one in three employees (29%) believe that CEOs and other C-suite leaders are doing an ‘outstanding job’ meeting the demands placed on them by the pandemic. This is compared to how they assessed scientists’ (53%) and national government leaders’ capabilities (47%).

Government leaders (53%) and scientists (52%) are also more trusted than C-suite leaders (34%) to develop new policies to be better prepared for a future crisis.

Edelman’s latest trust barometer revealed employees believe companies are either doing poorly, mediocre or completely failing at:

  • Putting people before profits (50%)
  • Implementing safety measures to protect workers and customers (41%)
  • Helping smaller suppliers and business customers stay in business by extending them credit or giving them more time to pay (46%)

“Business has been drafting for the past three months as government has led the first leg of this race,” said Edelman. “Now it’s time for business to sprint to the front of the pack as the focus shifts to reopening the economy.

“This is a moment of reckoning for business and the promise of a stakeholder approach must now be delivered by filling their supply chains with small businesses and the retaining and reskilling of workers.”

READ MORE: Is your team ready to return to the office?

When should you resume your business operations?
The study also found that most professionals favoured a measured and cautious approach to reopening the economy and businesses.

  • 67% believe that we must prioritise saving lives over jobs
  • 75% want CEOs to be conservative when getting their companies back to normal operations, even if it means waiting longer to reopen workplaces

The pandemic has intensified existing perceptions of the system being unfair, fears of job loss and lack of quality information, while adding concern for personal safety. Two-thirds (67%) believe that those with less education, less money and fewer resources are being unfairly burdened with most of the suffering, risk of illness, and need to sacrifice due to the pandemic.

More than one in two worry about job loss due to the pandemic and not being able to find a new one for a very long time.

People believe it is vital for business and CEOs to partner with government in order to shape a better future instead of working to keep government regulation to a minimum.

A majority (68%) want CEOs to proactively engage in conversations with government to regulate their companies in ways that protect people and the planet, while giving them the flexibility to innovate, respond to a crisis, and meet growing needs for their products or services.

The survey was conducted by Edelman Intelligence in mid-April and sampled more than 13,200 respondents in 11 markets: Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, UK and US.

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