8 Reasons Employees Don’t Trust Their Boss or Company

Employee pledging loyalty and trust

Do you trust your employer? | iStock.com

Trust and loyalty are difficult to come by in the professional world. While millennials seem happy enough to job hop their way to the top, more and more employers are looking for ways to increase employee loyalty within their organizations. Finding new and trustworthy employees is difficult and expensive. And though many people are willing to lie on their resumes to get the jobs they want, most wouldn’t want their employers betraying their confidence in similar fashion.

But there have been signs that the tides are turning. Employers have started to implement new ways to keep employees around, and the numbers show more raises and promotions are being handed out to loyal, long-time workers.

But there’s still a wide gulf when it comes to confidence in our employers. The 2016 Trust Barometer report from Edelman all but confirms it. The report took the pulse of tens of thousands of workers to see just how much trust (or distrust) is prevalent in the economy.

The findings? A lot of workers are very skeptical of their bosses and the companies they work for. In fact, a third of those surveyed said they don’t trust their employer. That impacts productivity, can lead to a toxic workplace, and hurts the bottom line. Here are some of the chief reasons Edelman’s Trust Barometer says employees don’t trust their employers.

1. Lack of engagement

employees walking together

A lack of engagement builds discontent. | David Ramos/Getty Images

Where there’s a lack of engagement, there’s a lack of trust. We see the dynamic at play in our personal relationships, and that extends to the employee-employer relationship, as well. When there are limited lines of communication, skepticism bubbles up. You start to worry about potential changes you might be missing.

Employers who keep employees in the dark are feeding distrust and discontent in their ranks. It also leads people to believe there is something to hide.

Next: Thinking small breeds discontent.

2. Short-term thinking

$100 bills

Only focusing on short-term goals could lead to company disaster. | Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

“Short-termism” is when a company or leadership team puts short-term profits ahead of an organization’s long-term goals and survival. It’s how we end up with car companies cutting corners or huge disasters, such as Deepwater Horizon. It’s about making the quarterly numbers look good at the expense of long-term projections. And employees hate it. According to the Edelman survey, two-thirds of employees think their company is too focused on short-term goals.

Next: Employees want to believe in their company.

3. No belief in the company

Skeptical man

Employees should be able to believe in their company’s mission. | iStock.com

Do you believe in your employer? That is, do you believe in the company’s mission and purpose? People want to work for employers who are addressing society’s needs and positively impacting their communities. That might mean taking measures to protect the environment or simply taking care of employees, so they can afford life’s necessities without struggling. But Edelman’s numbers show employers are coming up short. And that breeds distrust and contempt.

Next: Quality matters.

4. Poor product quality

An old, broken iPhone

Employees want to be able to stand behind what their company produces. | iStock.com

This is a callback to the discussion on “short-termism.” People trust companies that create and sell high-quality, reliable products and services. It’s easy to work for a company that puts pride into its work and pumps out products people love.

If you can personally stand behind your employer’s products, it’s easy to trust the company. But if you’re consistently fielding calls from angry customers, that’s going to take a toll on your psyche and how much you trust your company.

Next: A company should have a moral compass.

5. Unethical behavior

workers around word cloud about ethics

Employees want their companies to act ethically. | iStock.com

Although we’re all taught to act ethically, so many headlines fill the news about corporations or individuals taking shortcuts, ultimately earning a big pay day at the expense of everyone else. We saw ethics go out the window during the financial crisis, for example.

Employees want to work for ethical companies that aren’t doing shady things and are cleaning up after themselves. If they don’t, then what kind of example are they setting? It becomes hard to trust your company, and its leadership, when unethical behavior is being exhibited.

Next: Reputation is key.

6. Bad reputation

woman with head in hand at desk

Employees don’t trust a company with a bad reputation. | iStock.com/gpointstudio

It’s nearly impossible to attract loyal and trusting employees when your company has a bad reputation. People don’t want to work for a business that’s known for its negative attributes, and those who do work there probably don’t trust the company.

Edelman survey respondents said they would trust a company that has a highly regarded leadership team, as well as one that delivers consistent financial returns. They also wanted their CEO to be ranked as one of the top in the world.

Next: Who’s the CEO around here?

7. Invisible CEO

man at desk

CEOs shouldn’t hide in their offices all day. | iStock.com

According to the Edelman survey, 7 in 10 people thought CEOs should be visible to discuss financial results. And 8 in 10 said CEOs should discuss societal issues, including income inequality and public policy. Respondents wanted to know where their CEOs personally stood on these issues. When a CEO remains invisible, it’s hard for employees to know and trust what their company is all about.

Next: Did you say something?

8. Lack of communication

boss talking to staff

Workers want to hear from their bosses. | Paramount Pictures

So we’ve established employees don’t want an invisible CEO when it comes to company and societal issues. And they want even more specific communication from their CEOs to build trust.

In the Edelman survey, 81% of people said CEOs’ communication with employees is important, followed by 75% saying CEOs should meet with investors and analysts. And 74% said they wanted a CEO who communicates via press releases, newsletters, website updates, and reports, as well as one who participates in industry conferences. Plus, more than half of respondents said they wanted a CEO who shares views on social media. All of these methods of communication help to build trust in a workforce.

Additional reporting by Mary Daly.

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