Attitudes on U.S.- and Foreign-Owned Companies

There is more pride and perceived pay equity among American employees in U.S.-owned firms, compared to Americans working in foreign-owned organizations -- who believe communication, efficiency and lower anxiety are found there.

Saturday, November 1, 2008
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Are U.S. employees working in traditional, U.S.-owned companies more or less happy than their counterparts working here for foreign-owned firms?

The answer is: It depends on the issue. Towers Perrin opinion surveys of U.S. employees working in 129 companies show some interesting differences when comparing the responses from more than 360,000 U.S. employees in 85 U.S.-owned organizations with the responses from nearly 98,000 U.S. employees in 44 foreign-owned organizations.

Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of U.S. employees in U.S.-owned companies believe their organizations are held in high regard by the public, and 77 percent feel that their companies have a strong reputation for providing high-quality service. This suggests a strong national pride in products and services.

In contrast, only 48 percent of U.S. employees in foreign-owned companies believe the public regards their company highly, and 70 percent feel their organization?s reputation is strong.

American employees in U.S.-owned companies also believe their organizations are more competitive. Sixty-one percent report that their companies are the best or one of the best in delivering product quality, whereas 54 percent of U.S. employees in foreign-owned companies feel this is true.

American workers in U.S.-owned companies also report greater pay equity. Nearly half (47 percent) agree that company pay is competitive versus other organizations, as compared to 41 percent of U.S. employees in foreign-owned companies.

In addition, 56 percent of the employees of U.S.-owned companies indicate they are paid fairly, compared with others in their organization, versus 49 percent of those in foreign-owned companies.

However, the perceived advantages for those in traditional, U.S.-owned companies do not extend to issues related to anxiety about the future, communication from management, or perceived efficiency.

In particular, 41 percent of U.S. employees in U.S.-owned companies report that they are frequently worried about the future of their organization, versus just 22 percent in foreign-owned firms.

Moreover, layoffs are of a greater concern to Americans working in U.S.-owned companies. More than one in three employees (37 percent) in U.S.-owned companies indicate they are frequently worried about being laid off, versus only 28 percent in foreign-owned companies.

Employee insecurities are often linked to a lack of credible information about important business issues, so it is probably not surprising that 70 percent of U.S. employees in foreign-owned companies are satisfied with the information they receive from management, compared to just 58 percent in U.S.-owned organizations.

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These anxieties appear to impact operational efficiencies as well. Nearly eight in 10 (79 percent) U.S. employees in foreign-owned companies report that their department operates efficiently, versus 72 percent of U.S. employees in U.S.-owned companies.

The message to U.S.-owned organizations is clear: Build on the competitive advantage and pride that employees feel in working for a traditional U.S.-operated firm.

But, at the same time, realize that employees harbor serious anxieties about their futures in the global marketplace and are hungry for credible information on company performance, plansand future direction. Improvements in these areas could contribute to better performance.

Towers Perrin is a global professional services firm that helps organizations improve performance through effective people, risk and financial management. The firm provides innovative solutions in the areas of human-capital strategy, program design and management, and in the areas of risk and capital management, insurance and reinsurance intermediary services and actuarial consulting. It has offices and alliance partners in the world?s major markets.

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