A recent Harris poll asked people who was at fault for their financial problems. The usual suspects popped up — Wall St., Congress, the President — and one surprise.
The poll also showed about three out of every 10 who responded said their employer was to blame for their financial problems. Many saw HR as the face and voice of the employer, since HR was perceived as the source of many policies that affect pay and benefits — and ultimately personal finances.
Clearly, there’s an anger out there that sometimes isn’t rational and that leads to finger pointing and blame. Consider these statistics from the same poll:
- The number of people who blame their employer is about the same as those who blame themselves for poorly managing their finances. That is, employees are as likely to blame you as they are to take responsibility for their own problems.
- People are more likely to blame their employer than they are to blame their family for wasteful spending or failure to save. The lesson is that it’s easier to put responsibility on outside forces than those in your own living room.
What to do? Explanations that the downturn has hit everyone else hard, too, are unlikely to change attitudes. Few people take comfort in what’s happening with “everyone else.”
The best HR can do is to fully explain the reasons behind company decisions that affect employee finances — for instance, cuts in benefits, pay or hours; pay-raise freezes; and furloughs. The worst approach, with regard to employee attitudes, is to say nothing. That’s seen as dictatorial and uncaring.
Interesting footnote from the survey: People under the age of 33 are more likely to blame themselves than their employers.
Go here to see some raw data from the survey.