HR & Management

The trust gap widens among UK staff and employers

3 min read

28 November 2017

While staff are confident serious matters like sexual assault would be addressed by employers, they become less sure when bullying and lack of senior management performance is concerned, further highlighting the UK's widening trust gap.

The trust gap is widening between staff and their employers, EY concluded after looking through the opinions of 9,800 full-time adults across Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, the US and the UK. It largely came down to factors such as leadership style, unfair employee compensation and collaboration.

Poor business decisions, clear disrespect for workers’ opinions, non-ethical behaviour and the inability to be open and transparent further led to a growing trust gap. What’s more, the UK was cited as having a higher percentage of staff who would rather rely on colleagues than team bosses.

The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer was also at an all-time low, with 63 per cent of individuals claiming CEOs to be only somewhat reliable – or not at all.

Among those it cited as having the largest trust gap increases was the UK, having dropped 19 points in the barometer – it was preceded only by the US’ 21 points. This notion has perhaps been reflected in new research by YouGov.

There is confidence among 76 per cent of UK workers that their employers would take immediate and serious action were they to bring up a sexual harassment claim against their team boss. The figure rose to 86 per cent when it came to sexual assault.

YouGov noted, however, that “workers are far less certain employers will take other unpleasant behaviour by their bosses seriously. Only half of employees believe their workplace would take serious action against bosses who bully them, or was denying them their statutory rights.”

Only 36 per cent were of the belief that a lack of senior management performance would be addressed, while 32 per cent claimed bosses would be admonished for “fostering a hostile or unpleasant working environment”.

“There is only one thing employees believe would be taken as seriously as sexual harassment or sexual assault: theft,” YouGov added. “A whopping 89 per cent are confident their company would take serious action against their boss if they were stealing money.”

The figure in itself doesn’t bode well, given staff conclusions that the business would take more serious action against harm to the company rather than harm to employees.

According to Edelman’s respondents, the top-down approach to business needs to change, with its respondents craving a more collaborative model. And as Millennials are most vocal about having their opinions heard and valued, any employer not embracing an open and transparent nature will see employee trust slide.