The Greatest Killer of Employee Engagement
Engaged employees are great advocates, give more discretionary effort and remain loyal.
Savvy companies acknowledge the importance of employee engagement as an important factor in corporate success. In fact, our employee engagement surveys confirm that higher employee engagement directly correlates to greater productivity, higher customer satisfaction and less voluntary turnover.
What many managers may not know is how significant the role of trust is for employees to be engaged.
We have always known how critical trust is in the building of strong relationships…whether in the personal or professional realm. Children need to be able to trust the adults in their lives so they can feel secure, mature emotionally, and behave with integrity in their dealings with others. Spouses need to trust one another so they can face life’s challenges successfully and lovingly together. Employees need to trust their managers so they can work without fear of reprisals, raise issues as needed, believe they have the support to grow, and know they will be dealt with fairly.
This seems fairly straightforward and commonsensical, right? And yet, survey after survey of workers across the globe show that only about one in three employees truly trusts their employer. This is totally unacceptable if you believe, as we do, that trust is foundational for employee engagement which, in turn, is a critical ingredient to any talent management strategy.
There is a strong correlation between trust and engagement. Many employees in the Top 100 Great Places to Work have both a high degree of satisfaction with their work and a high level of trust for their employers as representatives of their companies. It works across the board. Loyalty toward coworkers and positive relations with colleagues matters in building employee engagement. Closeness within teams and good relationships with managers is what accounts for these workers “loving the people and loving the job.”
What happens when leaders behave unethically? Not only does the reputation of the organization suffer but employees either leave or are encouraged to cheat too. The whole atmosphere becomes toxic. A case in point is, of course, the financial disaster of 2008 when the housing market collapsed because of mortgage lenders’ questionable (and even criminal) practices.
The best CEOs lead in a way that is transparent to their employees. They share information that affects their work force; they try to have a more personal relationship with their workers…they emerge frequently from their office to join employees on the work floor; they look ahead to plan for the future rather than look only at the short-term; they lead through influence rather than authority.
Don’t underestimate the importance of trust in the workplace. It matters to your employees and affects your company’s future success.
You know you are headed in the right direction in terms of trust when your employees report:
- Having a close and trusting relationship with one or more coworkers.
- Trusting the leaders of the organization to set the right course and lead the company to future success.
- Feeling loyal to their immediate team or work group.
- Believing their leaders are honest and demonstrate integrity.
- Depending on and feeling close to the other members of their team.