Do Employees Trust Their Employers?

Recent research conducted by Elements Global Services revealed that there is much room for progress in building trust and accountability at the center of employee-employer relationships.

Research into eight areas of concentration explored worker priorities regarding privacy, compensation, surveillance, rest, interpersonal, benefits, scheduling, and termination. Top concerns were identified by examining frequency of searches on social media search engines. Privacy and surveillance are the top concerns for employees, together representing 42% of the top 50 searches. Compensation represented 22% of the most common searches.

The research then polled 1,000 employees to determine attitudes toward their employers regarding handling of these concerns.

Confidence in Human Resources Personnel

  • Overall, 83% of workers say they trust their HR manager or department although responses varied by industry. Nearly 50% of people working in media and 69% working in hospitality – industries that experienced significant downsizing during the past year – say they don’t trust HR.
  • Results also varied by gender. Entry-level women are the least likely to say they trust HR to protect their interests (68%). On the other hand, entry-level men (83%) have a nearly equal expectation that their interests will be protected as do senior-level women (84%).
  • Two-thirds of the workers surveyed said they have decided not to report an issue to HR “because they didn’t think HR would fix the issue.” Such issues included workloads, personality conflicts, bullying, compensation and sexual harassment.
  • Half of respondents who said they avoided taking a problem to HR did so for fear of retaliation.

Confidence in Managers and Supervisors

  • 74% of those who work remotely are concerned about their employer monitoring when and how much they work, and 76% of workers who use a computer are concerned about their employer monitoring their communications.
  • Most respondents indicated the need to hide things from their supervisors. Two-thirds of remote workers were concerned that employers were tracking their location by laptop or phone.
  • 64% of all respondents have deleted their browsing history at some point and 53% have deleted an instant message so it can’t be seen by a supervisor. Deleted content includes talking about something inappropriate for the workplace, gossiping or being negative, and communications that were simply off-topic from work and could be viewed as wasting time.
  • Those working in insurance (89%), HR (85%) and accounting (83%) were most likely to say they’re concerned about being monitored, and 59% of all workers say their employer would be upset with them if they knew everything they’ve ever said or written while at work.

While this research focuses of “permanent” employees, an increasing proportion of the workforce consists of non-employees. Companies must work with their business partners who source or engage temporary workers to also find constructive ways in which all workers can flag bad behavior and other problems. Formal and effective processes for follow-up are critical.  Trust is the first step when building loyalty and advocacy.