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Annie Hayes

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Two-thirds of staff don’t trust managers

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Less than a third of UK employees have complete trust in their manager, with 78 per cent believing that their manager has let them down in the past, according to research published today.

The study, by Investors in People, also reveals that over half of employees believe that their manager only has staff’s best interests at heart when it suits them.

Released to mark the start of Investors in People Week (5 to 9 November), the survey found that managers are most likely to let down employees by failing to provide the support they need to do their job (49 per cent*), failing to respond to concerns expressed by employees (48 per cent*) or withholding information which impacts on them (45 per cent*).

Sharing information in confidence with another member of staff was cited by 55 per cent of employees as the worst possible type of betrayal by their manager.

Employees’ lack of trust in their managers is most apparent when asked who they would confide in regarding a sensitive work-related matter: less than one-quarter would look to their boss, with 55 per cent turning instead to a colleague or contemporary in times of trouble.

This lack of trust in managers can have serious consequences: respondents said it can lead to lowered employee morale (68 per cent), destroy team spirit (46 per cent) and result in people looking for a new job (42 per cent).

Simon Jones, acting chief executive at Investors in People UK, commented: “Lack of trust breeds suspicion which can undermine confidence, commitment and productivity in the workplace.

“Managers must take heed and redouble their efforts to build trust amongst their people, understanding their concerns, communicating more regularly and being more honest with employees. Employers must also take responsibility for equipping managers with the skills needed to build more trusting relations with their employees. Without this, management practices threaten rather than enhance employee commitment, wasting opportunities, investment and resources as they do so.”

The research also reveals what managers could do to build a trusting relationship with their employees, with 37 per cent of employees believing that bosses should engage in regular communication, whilst a third think that managers need to be more honest and stick to their word.

Other interesting findings from the research include:

  • The crisis of confidence is particularly acute amongst long-term employees. Only 25 per cent of those employed for 10 years or more trust their manager completely, and 61 per cent of them say their manager looks after their interests only when it suits. New employees (those in post for less than a year) are much more optimistic: 39 per cent trust their manager completely and only 46 per cent feel their manager looks after their interests when it suits.

* The larger the company, the less trust there is: only 26 per cent of those in companies of 5,000 employees or more trust their manager completely, compared to 39 per cent of employees working in very small companies (two to nine employees.)

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Annie Hayes

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