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Senior management are the least trusted in the workplace

Renford Nelson
new careers

A new study of 2,000 UK employees has revealed that senior management are in fact the least trusted in the workplace – with only 16 percent trusting this group.

‘Better communication’ and ‘regular catch ups’ were factors considered key for management to improve trust. Renford Nelson, E-Commerce Manager at Virtual College.

Recently a new corporate governance code has been published aimed at improving trust in UK businesses, including looking at how companies engage with their staff. The new code will apply from the start of next year, however businesses do have the option to ‘opt out’ if they wish.

In the wake of this, and other news surrounding recent gender pay gap scandals, it is vital that UK businesses address issues surrounding trust in the workplace. Trust plays a pivotal role in employee engagement and the running of a successful business.

A recent survey found that 95 percent of senior management are confident that they are trusted by their staff, but research of 2,000 UK employees discovered that in fact only 16 percent of people trust senior management at the companies they work at.

In the research carried out by Virtual College, employees rated their trust in different roles in the following order:

  • Co-workers – 57 percent
  • Managers – 45 percent
  • Team members – 42 percent
  • Senior management – 16 percent

Trust in senior management was found to be considerably lower than trust in other positions such as middle management. The sectors that trusted senior management the least included; utilities (3 percent), legal (8 percent) and government services (8.7 percent).

Building a culture of trust in the workplace
Nearly half (44 percent) of employees felt that improving workplace trust would help to improve happiness in their roles. It was found that this would particularly boost staff working in the entertainment (55 percent), healthcare (53 percent), and social care sectors (52 percent).

Improvements in communication (52 percent) and regular catch ups (40 percent) were considered the best ways by employees for management to improve trust in the workplace. Communication from management was also considered particularly important in the education (57 percent) and healthcare sectors (59 percent).

In an increasingly digital world, it comes as no surprise that employees are looking for further communication from senior figures in a business. It is this lack of communication which is likely to have contributed to the results discovered in the research, as employees typically have more regular points of contact with other members of staff and this communication is integral to building trust.

Virtual College commented on the findings of the research, “It can be difficult for businesses to create a culture which is open and trusting. Navigating the different elements of trust in the workplace in a modern environment can be tricky, however the benefits of improving trust can be hugely rewarding to a business. Improving trust can help to boost productivity and employee satisfaction, which both ultimately impact on the performance of a business.

“Our research has also shown that communication is a key factor when looking to improve trust and it is clear that employees are keen to see more interaction with senior management in particular.”


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