No, you’re not being paranoid – your staff really don’t trust you

Dec 08 2004 by Nic Paton Print This Article

They may smile, nod and agree with you, but if you are a boss, your staff are unlikely to trust you, according to a new survey.

A study of more than 1,000 people by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has found that trust in senior managers is declining, particularly in the private sector.

Bosses need to be doing more to earn the trust of their employees, and just being the boss no longer guarantees you automatic trust and respect, it argued.

Just a quarter of employees in the private sector said they were willing to place a lot of trust in senior management to look after their interests, with more than four out of 10 saying they had little or no trust in them to do so.

The survey, Employee Well-being and the Psychological Contract, has been launched to coincide with a psychology at work conference run by the institute.

Trust in immediate line managers had also declined, dropping in the private sector by more than 10 per cent over the past two years, said the CIPD.

Fewer than half of those polled said their supervisor motivated them and only four out of 10 – 37 per cent – said their line manager actually helped them improve performance.

Mike Emmott, CIPD employee relations adviser, said: “Trust is a key element in the psychological contract between employers and employees. If employees have a positive psychological contract, this means they will show higher levels of satisfaction, motivation and commitment to the organisation.

“So if employees don’t trust their employer, or don’t feel they are being treated fairly, this will be reflected in their lack of commitment and underperformance,” he added.

Employers needed to work a lot harder in order to get the best from their staff, with good communication being the key, he suggested.

Other recommendations included consulting people about change and ensuring they felt involved in the decision making process.

But warned Emmott: “Too many firms are not getting the basics right.”

The survey also suggests that stress is a major issue, with employers falling below what the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has identified as an 'acceptable standard' on the core factors underpinning workplace stress levels.

For example, more than a third (37 per cent) of respondents say their workload is too heavy and one in five do not believe the demands of their job are realistic.

Taken together, Emmott said, the findings suggest that managers have a significant job on their hands in motivating a majority of their workforce.

"Those who are not looking for a traditional career are less likely to feel the need to make a favourable impression on their employer and less likely to demonstrate positive behaviours such as offering help to colleagues beyond their contractual obligation," he said.