Communication & transparency | 1 in 4 employees don't trust their CEO - here's why

1 in 4 employees don't trust their CEO - here's why

More than one quarter of employees don’t trust their CEO to be honest and transparent, with a similar number of staff feeling the same way about their firm’s senior leaders, new research has found.

The study found that over one quarter (26%) of employees in the UK do not trust their CEO to be open, while 24% do not trust their senior leadership to do the same.

Personio, Europe’s leading HR software company for small and mid-sized businesses, surveyed 2,000 employees in the UK, finding that transparency and employer-employee communication are pivotal to a positive employee experience and trust in the workplace.

Employees do not feel listened to

The research finds that feeling unheard by leadership could be fuelling employees’ distrust. Over a quarter (28%) of employees surveyed say that they are not given a chance to share feedback to leadership on their experiences. Meanwhile, less than half (46%) of employees feel that leadership in their organisation actually listens and acts on any feedback when given from staff.

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Pete Cooper, Director of People Partners & Analytics at Personio, says: “Trust in leadership is fundamental to creating a culture where people feel invested in a company’s growth and success - and listening to employees is key to building this trust. Providing opportunities for employees to give regular feedback, for example through surveys and pulse polls, is an important way to engage employees. But it needs to be a two way conversation, and leadership needs to communicate with employees to show that feedback is being listened to and taken seriously.”

More reward and progression transparency could improve the employee experience

In a difficult economy, reward and progression transparency has become more of a focus for employees. 61% do not feel that their current level of pay and remuneration has kept pace with inflation and the cost of living, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that over half (56%) of employees are more likely to discuss their pay with colleagues because of these factors.

The data suggests that transparency around pay and other factors, including rewards and promotions, could drive improved performance. 63% of employees say that they would be more motivated to work for a promotion if they had more clarity on their potential pay and remuneration. Meanwhile, a third (33%) would be motivated to work harder or be more productive by knowing they have the opportunity for a promotion, pay rise or bonus within the next year. Beyond the next 12 months, over a quarter (26%) report that a clear timescale or plan for a promotion or pay rise would incentivise them to do the same.

Beyond motivation, the data shows that there is a direct correlation between high levels of transparency in an organisation and employee engagement. The 5% of employees that perceive their organisation to be ‘very transparent’ across several factors (pay at all levels, the results of employee surveys, training budgets and opportunities, and non-salary rewards and compensation) are most likely to report high satisfaction, performance, and, crucially, loyalty compared to other employees surveyed. 91% of these employees report high productivity and motivation at work.

Cooper continues: “With the cost of living putting immense pressure on people’s finances, it’s important for businesses to recognise the influence that pay, and transparency around pay, will be having on employee job satisfaction and the overall employee experience. While it’s not always practical to raise pay, implementing regular performance reviews, giving timelines for progression, and ensuring people understand their total rewards package beyond their base salary, will help to provide employees with reassurance and motivation. Ultimately this will also build trust and improve overall employee engagement.”

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