Shooting the messenger?

May 28 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Line managers top the trustworthiness rankings as employees' most reliable channels of company information.

Half of Britain's employees find their direct boss a reliable channel, according to a poll of more than 750 workers carried out by market researchers MORI. This view is especially prevalent among those under 35 and junior managers or skilled manual workers.

More than two in five employees, especially managers and professionals, also trust the information imparted in team briefings - a big rise of 14 per cent on 1994 figures.

But the research once again reveals a lack of confidence in senior management, with one in five people feeling they are neither a trustworthy or reliable channel of information. On balance, only marginally more believe senior management than disbelieve them - a view that has not changed in 10 years.

This mistrust affects employees' feelings profoundly: those who feel mutual loyalty is declining within their company, and who do not believe their organisation provides 'great products or services', are twice as likely to mistrust senior management.

Susan Walker, director of MORI's Human Resources research, says that the figures highlight a dramatic rise in the past ten years in the trust employees place in upward communications as well as increasing levels of consultation in the modern workplace.

"The impact of these findings is critical to internal communications strategies,” She said. “It emphasises the value of focusing on effective team briefings and upward communications channels as these are most likely to be trusted."

A third of employees, mainly managers and professionals, say that they trust the opportunities given to put forward their own views compared to less than one in six in 1994. Just as people are urged to become more involved and express their views in every walk of life, so they're expecting the same opportunity at work.

However in-house magazines and newspapers do not fare well as sources of information. They find favour with only one in seven, with the same number actively mistrusting what they have to say. Company videos are even less popular – a mere three per cent think they are worth bothering with.

Despite encouraging signs that trust in companies is increasing, there is still some way to go, says Walker. "Although line managers are seen as the most trustworthy information channel, fewer than half of employees hold that view. MORI's trend data show that fewer than four in ten people find internal communications open and honest, while three in ten do not.”