A large percentage of Americans working at mid- to enterprise-sized companies cannot name their CEO or even pick him or her out of a lineup. According to a new survey nearly a quarter (23 percent) of Americans who work at companies with more than 500 employees are unsure of the name of their CEO.

More than two-thirds of those responding to APPrise Mobile’s survey (69 percent) pinpointed email as the most common method of communication from the organization’s top executive. However, only 16 percent said they receive communications from their CEO on a weekly basis and another 16 percent said they never hear from him or her at all which contributes to their lack of awareness of who their leader is

The survey also found that those early on in their careers are less familiar with company leadership than their more senior colleagues. For those workers just starting out between the age 18 and 24 (Gen Zers), only 66 percent said they know the name of their company’s chief executive. This compared to 78 percent of those over age 25.

Faceless Leaders

While some employees clearly aren’t great with names, the problem extends to faces too. A third of workers surveyed (32 percent) were not sure they could identify their CEO if asked to from a lineup.

The youngest employees were again less likely to know what their company’s chief executive looked like. Only 54 percent of those between 18 and 24 year olds were confident of passing the lineup test, compared to 69 percent of those older than 25.

Disconnect in location

The disconnect is understandable as the overwhelming majority of those surveyed (71 percent) do not work in the same location as their CEO while slightly less than half (46 percent) said they have actually met their CEO in person.

Given the dispersed nature of the workforce and greater flexibility given to employees when it comes to working remotely, the survey found that top executives are falling back on the impersonal and easy to misunderstand means of communication – email, rather than making face-to-face or similar types of efforts.


Money ‘Left on Table’ 

Poor methods and frequency of communications amount to leaving money on the table for business leaders. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report has estimated that disengaged employees cost the businesses in the U.S. approximately $450 to $550 billion each year (INC).

The results of the APPrise Mobile survey suggest that increased communications (especially from senior leadership) is critical to employee engagement and, if done consistently and effectively, can help to reduce these costs while bringing additional value to businesses. The survey found that only 55 percent of employees at larger businesses feel like they fully understand the company’s mission statement. At the same time, nearly a quarter of respondents (23 percent) stated that they believe they would better understand their company’s objectives if they received more regular and meaningful communications from their CEO.  Increased communications from the top boss would also lead many employees to be more motivated (16 percent), recommend their job to others (9 percent), work harder (8 percent) and turn down other jobs (6 percent).

“Effective employee communications is a necessary component of a company’s success and the results of our survey show that far too many companies do not do an adequate job at communicating and engaging with their workers, especially the younger ones,” said Jeff Corbin, CEO of APPrise Mobile. “The CEO is the figurehead responsible for setting the tone and standard for his or her organization’s communications attitude and strategy.  A company’s success cannot be based just on sales or revenue targets.  It is also heavily dependent on ensuring that the people responsible for hitting management’s goals – i.e. the employees – understand the purpose for which they are working.  This is where solid communications comes into play.  Business leaders who prioritize communications, employee engagement and personally seek to establish a relationship with their workers will reap the benefits and see important gains across the business, not just operationally but also financially.”

Survey Methodology

These findings are based on a Google Consumer Survey of 1,000 respondents in the United States that say they currently work for a company with 500 or more employees. Google Consumer Surveys automatically fields a validated, representative sample of respondents which was weighted against the U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey for age or gender of the United States to be representative of the adult Internet population.

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