Just half of UK employees feel trusted at work

Despite trust in the workplace being fundamental to employee engagement, research by Catalyst found across Europe just 46% of employees in Europe feel they are ‘often’ or ‘always’ trusted by their employer.

In its survey of 1,700 full-time employees in five countries, the UK had the highest levels of employee trust at 50%, followed by The Netherlands and Sweden at 48%, Germany at 39% and France at 36%.

Employees said contributing to organisational goals and being invited by colleagues to make decisions were the most critical features of being trusted.

Allyson Zimmermann, Catalyst executive director, EMEA, said the data should set alarm bells ringing.

She said: “It should be concerning to leaders that over half of employees do not feel a sense of trust at work, particularly when we found that this motivates employees to do their best work,”

“Trust needs to be shown in action, and we hope this data helps corporate leaders in Europe lead inclusively and promote trust as part of their organizational cultures.

Across Europe, 43% of women said they experienced trust at their organisation compared with 49% of men.

Liz Sebag-Montefiore, director and co-founder of HR consultancy 10 Eighty recommended HR introduce an ‘acid test’ toboost trust levels between staff and managers by asking employees to choose their own amount of annual leave.

She said: “Managers need to tell employees to take as much annual leave as they would like subject to getting their job done and colleagues knowing where they are. If managers sit comfortably with this approach, they trust their employees and their employees will trust them. If they're not comfortable, it's clear that managers don't trust their employees enough and employees, in turn, won't trust their manager.”

This test could also be used during remote working, she urged.

“As a manager do you need to see your employees in order to ensure you know they are doing their job? If you need to see them, as a manager you don't trust your employees and they, in turn, won't trust their manager.

“HR need to communicate clearly and consistently across the organisation and ask for regular feedback from employees on what's working well and what can be improved. Employees like to work for organisations with integrity and they like to feel listened to, so managers need to make themselves available for these conversations.”

Further reading:

What HR should know about the limits of spying on employees

The social dilemma, can HR police social media use?

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