Over one-third of professionals would reject job offer based on CEO approval, reveals Robert Walters study

07/12/2023

A RECENT study conducted by specialist recruitment firm Robert Walters has shed light on the significant influence CEOs have on professionals’ career decisions in the UK and Ireland. The research, based on responses from 2,000 white-collar workers, reveals that 35% of respondents would reconsider or decline a job offer based on their opinion of the company’s CEO, even if they liked their prospective line manager. Additionally, 38% expressed a lack of trust in their organisation’s leaders to make ethical decisions.

The findings underscore the pivotal role CEOs play in shaping workplace culture, with 48% of professionals believing that CEOs have the most significant impact on a company’s cultural environment. This compares to 35% who attribute a similar level of influence to mid-management and only 17% who consider overall employees to be key contributors to workplace culture.

Chris Poole, Managing Director of Robert Walters UK, commented on the study, stating, “Over the last 18 months, the profile of the CEO – and leaders in general – has definitely been raised, and this can be seen across the board right through to government officials, celebrities, and influencers.”

The study delved into the qualities that professionals associate with successful CEOs. The results indicate that 41% believe CEOs who ‘lead by example’ bring the most value to a company. Additionally, 25% attribute CEO success to empathy and active listening, while just over 20% emphasise the importance of being decisive and open to advice.

Chris Poole highlighted the evolving expectations of professionals, saying, “Increasingly we are finding that professionals want to know that the leaders sitting at the helm of major companies know what they are doing and can lead with confidence and conviction – as well as maintain an empathetic and listening ear to their employees and even wider society.”

Referring to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, the study revealed that employees who felt trusted by their CEO reciprocated trust at a rate of 87%. Conversely, only 27% of professionals who did not feel trusted by their CEO reciprocated trust. The research emphasises the importance of clear communication, transparency, and leaders actively participating in creating a positive corporate culture to foster trust.

The study identified two primary factors leading to distrust in CEOs: leaders having ‘hidden agendas and playing into corporate politics’ (48%) and delivering unclear and inconsistent messages (31%). Other contributing factors included CEOs lacking a strong voice (14%) and concerns about a negative reputation (6%).

Chris Poole concluded, “The blueprint for building trust is clear – employees want leaders who are transparent and good communicators who maintain a strong, consistent voice. Who aren’t afraid to play an active role in creating a positive culture.”

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