Trust in Executives is Essential for Employee Engagement

by: Nichole Gunn April 19, 2011

Trust is the reliance on the integrity and ability of a person or thing; it’s the confident expectation of something. Trust is what employees need to have in their employers; unfortunately, it not easily accomplished.

The Employee Engagement Report 2011, conducted by consulting firm BlessingWhite, showed that 72 percent of North American workers trusted their managers, while only 52 percent conveyed trust in the companies’ top tier leaders.

The survey examined workplace attitudes of approximately 11,000 employed professionals on four continents and demonstrated that employee trust in executives proved more relevant in regard to employee engagement than trust in immediate managers.

Statistics from the study showed that fifty percent of employees who trust executives are engaged, while only 40 percent of employees who trust their direct supervisor are engaged. The percentage drops to 33 percent for the North American workforce overall. BlessingWhite notes that these percentages do not fluctuate much from the levels prior to the recession.

BlessingWhite CEO Christopher Rice noted in a press release, “Our latest research is consistent with our pre-recession findings. Trust in leadership is an important factor in achieving high levels of engagement.” Although employees can enjoy their work, without trust in their supervisor and their supervisor’s boss, they will begin to doubt their place in the company. This will translate into a reduction of pride and loyalty in the workplace.

Part of the problem comes from the lack of contact. “Most immediate supervisors and managers can demonstrate trustworthiness in their daily actions and become known beyond their titles. Executives don’t have that luxury,” explains Rice. “The workforce scrutinizes what they do see and hear -- and will draw the most unexpected, unfortunate conclusions if leaders do not communicate carefully. Rice has found this to be true “even in well-run companies, half the workforce typically does not trust the senior team.”

To counter-act the trust issues, employers must take employee satisfaction and engagement up a notch. According to the International Business Times (IBT), boosting these elements will be essential to business success in the future. The report went on to note that this focus is listed in the top five major management trends for the 21st century. Business growth and success will rely heavily on examining employee cognition, behavior, motivation, and performance.

In order to harness this type of information and address problem areas, additional studies and “effective analysis of both individual and institutional psychology” will be necessary. IBT notes that psychological theory and research can and will be incorporated into “business academics and management practice."


About Nichole Gunn

Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that delivers advanced, agile B2B customer loyalty and channel sales incentives programs.