Trust in the Modern Workplace - Part One

Today's post, the first of two, comes to us from the executive director of The Workforce Institute, Dr. Chris Mullen, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, SPHR.

It's often said that trust is the foundation of any good relationship. Whether it's your relationship with a spouse or significant other, a friend or yes, even an employer, without trust, there's not much to build upon.

In fact, the CEO of UKG, Aron Ain devotes a whole chapter to trust in his book, Work Inspired, noting “For a more engaged, higher-performing workforce, start by assuming competence, and then demonstrate to your people over and over again that you trust them.”

Here at The Workforce Institute, we've just released new research with our friends at Workplace Intelligence on the topic of Trust in the Modern Workplace. With the COVID-19 pandemic coloring every decision and interaction in the workplace, the topic of trust has taken on renewed urgency. Every organization is different, but trust is a universal element required for success, especially in times of uncertainty.

A few of the key findings of the report:

  • 63% of employees and business leaders globally say trust must be earned.
  • Over half of employees say that trust directly impacts their: sense of belonging (64%), career choices (58%), mental health (55%) and daily effort (68%).
  • 52% of business leaders and employees say trust is higher at their organization today than it was before the pandemic.

I thought this last statistic was an especially positive one given the impact of COVID-19 on working life. If we drill down into the country-by-country data, the picture becomes ever clearer: workplace trust improved due to the pandemic most in India (67%), Mexico (56%), the U.S. (53%), the U.K. (52%), and Australia and New Zealand (50%).

Why is this? I'd bet it has something to do with how all of our working lives have changed because of COVID-19. Many people around the world now find themselves working from home - a situation that frankly just doesn't work without a high degree of trust being put in employees. On the flip side, many employees whose jobs require them to be present in a physical location are having to trust their employers to do their level best to reduce danger and risk when possible. We're all trusting each other to stay home if we have symptoms of COVID-19 and to make good choices in our personal lives to reduce the risk of contracting the disease. Vaccinations are thankfully on the horizon and that's going to be a whole other exercise in trust.

In any normal year, trust between employees and employers is important. But this year, in the world we find ourselves living in, it truly has never been more essential.

Do you trust your employer more now than you did before the pandemic? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments section.

CLICK HERE to read the full Trust in the Modern Workplace Report.