Do Employees Trust the Boss? More Than Half Surveyed Say: Not So Much!

Interaction Associates Releases Annual Workplace Trust Tracker – Building Workplace Trust – Pointing to Challenges and Opportunities at Intersection of Leadership, Trust, and Business Results

BOSTON--()--Interaction Associates has released its annual workplace trust research, Building Workplace Trust 2014/15, and it has a shot across the bow for business leaders – with more than half of the people surveyed giving their organization low marks for trust and effective leadership. What’s more, a quarter of those surveyed say they trust their boss less this year than in 2013.

This is the 6th annual Building Workplace Trust survey from Interaction Associates, a leading global workplace performance improvement firm. This year’s research polled more than 500 people employed at companies worldwide in a range of job functions and industries.

Interaction Associates commissioned the international research company, IDG Research Services, to implement this year’s Building Workplace Trust survey.

Building Workplace Trust specifically examines the impact of leadership, trust, and collaboration on business performance and results.

Trust & The Boss

More than half of those surveyed give their organization low-to-poor marks for trust and effective leadership.

When asked to rate the statement “Employees have a high level of trust in management and the organization”, just 4 out of 10 agreed that it described their organization well. The majority (58%) found their organization lacking.

Leadership effectiveness takes a similar hit in this year’s Building Workplace Trust: Fewer than half of those surveyed (45%) agree that the statement “My organization has effective leadership” describes their organization well.

In fact, trust may be going from bad to worse at many organizations: Some 26% (one-quarter) of those surveyed say they trust their boss less this year than in 2013.

More People Trust Their Peers

For the purposes of the Building Workplace Trust research, trust is defined as the willingness to accept personal risk based on another person’s actions. And on the measure of risk and safety specifically, people trust their peers more than the boss.

More than half of those surveyed - 54% - say they feel safe communicating their ideas and opinions with colleagues and peers. The comparison with leaders is significant: Only 38% of those surveyed say that people feel safe communicating their ideas and opinions with leadership.

“Our research consistently points to how trust is critical for driving business results – and yet we see such a high rate of mistrust among the working population this year,” said Linda Stewart, CEO of Interaction Associates. “The results are alarming especially in light of the importance people place on trusting their leadership – some 82% of all respondents say that trusting their boss is essential for them to be effective in their job,” added Stewart.

Trust Leaders vs. Trust Laggards

Interaction Associates’ six years of experience studying trust and leadership has shown a consistent connection between high trust and strong business results.

The findings in Building Workplace Trust specifically detail the differences between trust leader organizations and trust laggards – with trust leaders being the elite 10% of companies whose workers agree that “Employees have high trust in leaders and the organization” describes their organization extremely well.

Companies that are trust leaders are more than 2 ½ times more likely than trust laggards to also be leaders in revenue growth.

What’s more, trust leaders significantly outperform all other organizations in achieving key business goals – including customer loyalty and retention; competitive market position; ethical behavior and actions; predictable business and financial results; and profit growth.

Building Workplace Trust also points to significant gaps between trust leaders and other organizations in the behavior and actions that foster the right cultural conditions for high trust in organizations.

Nearly all of those surveyed who work for trust leader organizations - 96% - say their leaders make decisions that are consistent, predictable, and transparent. Only 29% of non-trust leaders say that’s the case at their organization.

Other behaviors and actions that foster trust – and where there are huge double-digit gaps between trust leader organizations and non-leaders – include: People and teams can take risks (i.e. people are “allowed to fail” and learn from their mistakes); people have a shared sense of commitment and responsibility; and the organization encourages transparency and shared understanding of key processes for decisions and initiatives.

Additional Findings in Building Workplace Trust Include:

Trust Leader Organizations Retain Employees Better: High-Trust Companies are far more likely than Low-Trust to have highly engaged and involved workforces and better employee retention. In addition, trust leaders prioritize talent acquisition and retention more than do trust laggards.

Trust Drives Innovation: Trust leaders prioritize innovation and are more likely than trust laggards to be innovative (65% vs. 14%). Additionally, eight out of ten employees report that a high level of trust inside an organization fosters both innovation and investment in new projects.

Employees Crave Transparency from Leaders: And they want input into decisions that affect them. The top five actions employees urge leaders to take in order to build trust are:

1. Ask for input into decisions that affect me

2. Give me background information so I can understand decisions

3. Set me up for success with learning and resources

4. Admit your mistakes

5. Don’t punish people for raising issues (Don’t shoot the messenger!)

Trust in Direct Reports Is Up

Respondents say that a high level of trust in their direct reports is essential to being effective in their jobs. Trust in direct reports is up for 23% of respondents over last year’s level.

About Interaction Associates: Interaction Associates (IA) is a 44-year global innovator of methods that drive superior workplace results. IA helps organizations around the world build high-involvement, collaborative cultures by developing their leaders, teams, and change agents. IA's clients achieve a new measure of ROI - Return on Involvement - where employees go "beyond engagement" to share responsibility for business success. The firm’s services include customized consulting, learning and development, including live online programs, and coaching services. IA was named was named one of Training Industry's Top 20 Leadership Training Companies from 2012-2014. Click here for more details on IA’s research: Building Workplace Trust.


For Interaction Associates
Michael Tirrell, 312-787-2426

Release Summary

Interaction Associates releases global workplace trust research; Do employees trust the boss? More than half surveyed say: Not so much! And 25% say they trust the boss less this year than in 2013.


For Interaction Associates
Michael Tirrell, 312-787-2426