Is lack of trust in leadership causing people to jump ship?

Do your employees trust their leadership?
New research indicates less than half of the workforce — 48% — say they trust the people at the top of their organizations.
Even worse: 28% actively distrust leaders.
Finally, another 24% said they neither trust nor distrust management — which could be the most damning statistic of all: People who don’t care enough to have an opinion aren’t exactly the folks you’d expect to be fully “engaged” in their jobs.
And here’s the bottom line: 50% of those who say they don’t trust company leadership are seriously considering jumping ship.
Only 14% of the workers who trust their management are thinking of leaving.
The numbers come from a recent survey from the Kenexa High Performance Institute, which canvassed about 10,000 U.S. workers and another 1,000 in 21 other countries.
Key attributes of trusted leaders
What qualities engender trust among workers? Kenexa says employees are l0oking for three key traits in their leaders:

  • Integrity — cited by 41% of respondents
  • Benevolence — cited by 34%, and
  • Competence — cited by 25%.

Gender doesn’t seem to enter into the trust equation, according to Kenexa — the poll results reveal no difference in the trust levels of men and women.
Age, however, is a different matter. Workers in their 20s and 30s are far more likely to trust management than employees in their 40s and 50s.
The study points out another interesting variable in trust levels: Upper and mid-level managers are more likely to trust leadership than rank and file employees.
Sixty-one percent of managers say they trust management, and 63% say they feel their organization has an effective, open communication structure.
Only 46% of the rank and file say they trust leadership, and 51% think they work in an atmosphere of open communication.
Best practices
What can employers do to build trust levels? Kenexa identifies several tactics that seem to help build trust. A rundown:

  • Published a mission statement: Of companies who did so, 52% of employees said their trust levels were high. Of employees in companies who had no mission statement, only 38% said they trusted leadership.
  • Conducted an employee opinion survey: Yes, 54%; No, 38%
  • Sponsored a quality improvement initiative: Yes, 55%; No, 36%
  • Gathered customer satisfaction feedback: Yes, 54%; No, 37%
  • Conducted yearly performance reviews: Yes, 51%; No, 40%, and
  • Cross-trained employees: Yes, 54%; No, 42%.

To download a PDF of the full research results, go here.