Breakdown in trust heralds retention crisis

2010

With a third of Americans saying they plan to look for a new job when the opportunity arises, many organizations face a big challenge if they are going to rebuild trust with their battered workforce and retain key staff members.

According to the fourth annual Ethics & Workplace Survey from consultants Deloitte, 34 per cent of employed Americans plan to look for a new job as the economy picks up, with half of these (48 per cent) citing a loss of trust in their employer as the main reason for wanting to leave.

A similar proportion point to a lack of transparent communication from their company's leadership, while four out of 10 say that they have been treated unfairly or unethically.

These concerns are shared by many senior managers, the report suggests. Two-thirds of Fortune 1000 executives who are concerned employees will be job hunting in the coming months acknowledge that trust will be a factor in any increase in voluntary turnover while half agree that a lack of transparency has been a problem.

Meanwhile, as a separate survey released earlier this month by Right Management highlights, organizations are already losing staff they would rather hold onto. More than half (54 per cent) of employers said that they had lost top performers over the past six months while fewer than a third (28 per cent) say they have managed to retain all of those they hoped to.

"With lack of trust and transparency factoring into the employment decision of roughly half of the respondents who plan to job hunt in the coming months, business leaders must be mindful of the importance of both on talent management and retention strategies, as well as the bottom-line impact," said Sharon Allen, chairman of the board for Deloitte LLP.

The Deloitte survey also shows a disconnect between employees and employers around the issues of trust and ethics in the workplace. Although executives claim to be considering the impact of their business decisions on the ethical behavior of the workforce during the economic downturn, nearly a third of employees say that their colleagues are more likely to behave unethically at work in this environment.

"By focusing on these two areas, executives may be able to reduce attrition. It could also allow them to mitigate the expenses associated with the hiring and on-boarding process and ensure that tacit knowledge remains within their organizations," Sharon Allen added.

"Establishing and reinforcing a values-based culture can ultimately help to cultivate employee trust."