Mind the (trust) gap

18th January by Lee Robertson

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Mind the (trust) gap

A new survey from Catalyst has found that fewer than half of European employees feel they are trusted at work.

Canvassing the opinions of 1,700 workers from a range of industries in the UK, France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, the research revealed that only 46 per cent of workers reported often or always being trusted by their employers. Brits enjoyed the highest level of trust at 50 per cent with France languishing in last place at 36 per cent.

The experience of trust is consequential and as the data shows in earlier surveys conducted by Catalyst, when managers lead more inclusively, experiences of trust increase and organisations benefit alongside employees.

The respondents indicated that having the opportunities to contribute to the organisational goals and being invited by their peers and colleagues to participate in decision-making, are the most critical features of being trusted in the workplace.

The report which is the second part of Catalyst’s Getting Real About Inclusive Leadership series also highlighted that only 36 per cent of employees in non-management positions enjoyed trust compared to 54 per cent of those in managerial posts. In addition, just 43 per cent of female workers experienced high levels of trust in contrast to 49 per cent of men.

Another headline finding was that 72 per cent of employees enjoyed a high degree of trust when being part of a cohesive team, but that this dropped significantly to 25 per cent where teams are less united in their shared goals and purpose.

Emily Shaffer, the report’s author and a director in the global non-profit’s research department commented: ”For all of these countries, only half or fewer than half of employees experience being trusted at work. Employers need to pay attention to this phenomenon and act to create trust as part of an inclusive work culture within organisations.”

“It is disappointing to read that business leaders are still reluctant to place more faith in their employees. Covid-19 has been a wake-up call for many employers in that they see they can trust their workers to do their jobs just as well from home as they can from the office, but there is still much to be done to improve workplace cultures,” said Karen Smart, who heads up the consultancy services arm at the AoEC.

She continued: “This fixed mindset needs to be a big concern for organisations, especially when numerous studies show that trust is pivotal to increasing engagement, motivation and performance. The bigger picture here is that too many workplaces still run under a command and control style of leadership rather than a coaching approach which would allow them to reap the benefits of inclusivity, diversity of thought, trust and autonomy.”