New Ruder Finn FutureThink Index Reveals Overall Positive American Outlook on the FutureSep 20, 2021
– New style of corporate leadership built on transparency, dialogue and knowledge-sharing drives positivity, even in difficult times.
– FutureThink Index provides a roadmap for how business leaders can increase positivity in both future outlook and current behaviors.
NEW YORK 09/20/2021 Ruder Finn today launched the Ruder Finn FutureThink Index, a new tracking study that measures how Americans think about the future and how business leaders play a role in shaping American outlook. The study explores the specific relationship respondents have with their employer, healthcare and technology providers, and how levels of transparency, dialogue, and knowledge (TDK) within those structures impact the respondent’s future outlook and current behaviors.
Highlights of the inaugural Ruder Finn FutureThink Index include:
• The American Dream still unites us: Despite doom and gloom, we managed well through the pandemic crisis. Americans overall lean positive when asked about their current experience during the past year, with 48% saying they had a positive year, and only 15% of Americans saying they had a bad or terrible year. Americans are even more confident about the future with 58% of Americans believing their lives will get better going forward.
• A new style of business leadership is shaping positivity:Given the challenges facing America, the Ruder Finn FutureThink Index sought to understand what is driving this American positivity and whether a new style of connected leadership based on transparency, dialogue and knowledge-sharing is having real and meaningful impact on future outlook and current behaviors. In order to do that, we measured respondents’ connection to employers, healthcare and technology providers in terms of transparency, dialogue, and knowledge (TDK). For example, when it comes to career, 82% of Americans with high TDK connection think the future looks better, compared to only 52% of people with medium and 31% of people with low TDK connection. The differences are even more striking when looking at health, where a similar 82% of Americans with high TDK connection think the future looks better, compared to only 43% of people with medium and 24% of people with low TDK connection. Businesses and leaders can also shape current behaviors by building stronger TDK: people with high TDK are 20% more likely to get a Covid vaccine, 96% more likely to drive an electric car and more than twice as likely to take a career development course. Employers beware: high TDK employees are also 92% more likely to find a new job. So while building high TDK engages and motivates high performers, it also encourages those employees to seek new opportunity. If employers don’t create opportunities within, high performers will seek it elsewhere
• Overcoming our Cultural Divide As we have seen in much reporting, women and parents have suffered during the pandemic, trying to balance and juggle. Our study shows these groups are more uncertain about the future and feel significantly lower TDK. 64% of men, for example, believe the future will be better, compared to only 48% of women. Similar gaps are seen across wealth and ethnic lines. 72% of Americans who perceive themselves as wealthy think the future looks better, compared to 58% who perceive themselves as middle class and only 41% who perceive themselves as low income. Current and future positivity is more consistent across ethnic and racial groups, with 58% of White Americans, 52% of Black Americans, 59% of Hispanic/Latino and 64% of Asian Americans thinking the future looks positive. There is still work to be done in developing TDK connection in the Black community, with only 22% of Black Americans feeling high TDK connection compared to 40% of White Americans.
• The Great Resignation and Urban Collapse:A generational change is altering the way businesses need to connect with their employees. As people get younger, they feel less connected to their employers: 57% of GenXers feel high TDK compared to 49% of Millennials and 26% of GenZ. GenZ, notably, is the only group where FutureThink (53% positive) goes down over current experience (55% positive). Businesses will need to re-evaluate how they connect with a younger workforce going forward. Headlines also call out the collapse of urban centers, while the study shows that cities remain the engines that drive positivity and connection: 66% of people living in cities think the future looks better compared to 49% of people living in rural and suburban communities thinking the future looks better. This gives new reason for corporate leaders to support building back cities while creating deeper connection in a hybrid world.
Ruder Finn CEO Kathy Bloomgarden said of the new Ruder Finn FutureThink Index, that “in this new age, businesses and their leaders are emerging as primary, trusted sources of information, and they are becoming true influencers for behaviors from how we manage our personal health to how we think about our future. With this power comes a higher than ever degree of responsibility, and it is crucial that leaders and businesses consider their impact and how their actions can help both close the gaps in sentiment we see across demographics, and improve the outlook of society overall.”
About Ruder Finn FutureThink Index
The Ruder Finn FutureThink Index was conducted over an 8-week period ending August 31, looking at a sample of 2,000 respondents and how they feel in the moment when reflecting on how the past 12 months has impacted them, as well as what Americans think about the next 12 months and beyond. The study explores the specific relationship each respondent has with their employer, healthcare and technology providers, and how levels of transparency and dialogue within those systems impact the respondent’s outlook and behaviors. The Ruder Finn FutureThink Index will continue to be conducted quarterly. For more information on these findings, visit www.ruderfinn.com