New Poll: Employees Don’t Trust Their Leaders

See press release from Maritz Research. Pretty sad state of affiars for leadership. Then again, it looks like we don’t trust our co-workers either.

For some help is this area, see:

10 Ways to Inspire Trust as a Leader

Seven Ways to Build Trust as a Leader

Employees trust in senior management, direct supervisors and co-workers is dwindling across all industries

04.14.2010 – A new Maritz® Poll conducted by Maritz Research, a leader in employee satisfaction research, paints a dire outlook of American workforce attitudes toward employers. Employees’ trust toward their workplace has taken a severe hit, with employees across all industry segments citing a lack of trust in not only senior leaders, but direct managers and co-workers as well.

According to the poll, few (11 percent) employees strongly agree their managers show consistency between their words and actions. In addition, only seven percent of employees strongly agree they trust senior leaders to look out for their best interest, and only seven percent strongly agree they trust their co-workers to do so. Approximately one-fifth of respondents disagree that their company’s leader is completely honest and ethical, and one-quarter of respondents disagree that they trust management to make the right decisions in times of uncertainty. While workplace trust has been dwindling since the Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco scandals of the earlier part of the decade, threats of layoffs and downsizing have only exacerbated the problem.

“In times like these, trust is an especially critical issue. Companies need their best people more than ever to be engaged and productive. But, often, this process starts at the top,” says Rick Garlick, Ph.D., senior director of consulting and strategic implementation, Hospitality Research Group, Maritz Research. “You’ve got to maintain credibility with your workforce as a means of getting them to totally buy in to the mission and vision of your company. Anything less fosters a disengaged workforce that puts self-interest at the top of its list of priorities.”

In cases where management trust was strong, the study found that employees were significantly more committed to working for their companies. More than half of respondents (58 percent) with strong trust in their management were completely satisfied with their job, while only four percent of respondents with weak trust in management cited they were completely satisfied with their job.

The study also revealed:

• Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents with strong trust in management would be happy to spend the rest of their career with their present company. This compares to only seven percent of respondents who have weak trust in management.

• More than half of those surveyed (51 percent) with strong management trust would invest money in their company if they could versus only six percent of those surveyed with weak management trust.

• Only three percent of respondents with weak management trust look forward to coming to work everyday. For those with strong management trust, 50 percent responded they look forward to coming to work everyday.

Which Industry Fares Well? Hospitality Employees and Its Customers
While the survey suggests there is room for improvement across all sectors, the hospitality industry seems to have some advantages over others. For example, hospitality employees (14 percent) are more likely than other industry segments (9 percent) to rate their company as a “fun place to work.” Hospitality sector employees also tend to rate their companies better on customer service-related issues and the impact they make:

• More than one-third (34 percent) completely understand how their work impacts customers’ experiences, compared to only 23 percent in other industries.

• Twenty percent believe they have the authority they need to respond promptly to customer problems and requests, versus just 15 percent of respondents in other industries.

Approximately one-fifth (21 percent) of hospitality respondents believe their customers would rate the service they deliver as excellent, compared to only 14 percent of respondents in other segments.

However, there is room for improvement. Only 15 percent of employees agree that their company has the policies, systems and procedures in place to deliver outstanding customer service.

“With the hospitality industry taking one of the biggest hits due to poor economic conditions and negative perceptions, it is promising that employees feel positive about the connection of their daily work to customer service issues. But, it is still not a rosy picture when it comes to engagement. The results show that a lack of trust runs rampant in this sector as well, which impacts employees’ perceived long term career development opportunities, co-worker relationships, and productivity levels,” says Garlick.

Don’t slash that recognition program
The weak economy forced companies to cut costs across the organization. And, unfortunately, formal recognition programs were frequently sacrificed. More than one-third of respondents (33 percent) cited their company scaled back or eliminated their recognition program in the past year. There is some data, at least from the employees’ perspective, to suggest these cuts have had an impact on the quality of service they deliver to customers. Among employees whose companies kept recognition programs intact, 25 percent strongly agreed their customers would rate their service as excellent. Among those whose companies cut back on their recognition programs or never had one, only 14 percent strongly agreed customers would rate their service as excellent.

“Recognition programs are critical to demonstrating to employees that they are valued and appreciated for the work they perform. It’s an important engagement tool, as it helps to reinforce messages about how people are making an impact,” says Garlick. “This is a wake-up call for management teams that consider employee recognition programs as expendable. Not only do recognition programs positively impact employee engagement levels, they ultimately lead to positive customer service perceptions, which impact the bottom line.”

About Maritz® Poll

Maritz® Poll is a copyrighted poll conducted since 1988 by Maritz Research. Maritz Poll comprises regular surveys on topics related to the automotive, financial services, hospitality, retail, technology, and telecommunications sectors as well as workplace issues. This poll was conducted March 1-5, 2010. The 2,004 respondents were people who were employed full time and drawn from a national e-mail panel. Sampling error for the overall poll is +/-3 percent. Results of the poll may be used in print or broadcast media, provided credit is given to the Maritz Poll and/or Maritz Research.

About Maritz Research
As one of the world’s largest marketing research firms, Maritz Research, a unit of Maritz, helps many of today’s most successful companies improve performance through an actionable understanding of their customers, employees, and channel partners. Founded in 1973, Maritz Research offers a range of strategic and tactical solutions concentrating primarily in the automotive, financial services, hospitality, telecommunications and technology and retail industries. Maritz Research projects are carried out in compliance with the International Standard: ISO 20252:2006 Market, Opinion, and Social Research Standard. Maritz Research is a member of CASRO and official sponsor of the American Marketing Association.