A quarter of employees say trust in managers has deteriorated in the last two years

The report – ‘Sustaining Resilience’ –  also revealed that six out of 10 employees are demotivated, tired and at risk of burnout.  
When asked how the recession had impacted them personally by far the largest number of respondents, at 37%, said their pay or bonus had been frozen and 12% said their role had changed due to reorganisation. Work life balance has also been affected with four out of 10 employees believing they will be working longer hours over the next 12 months; a similar proportion also believe that their work life balance will be harder to maintain.  
The findings represent a cry for help from employees and should raise alarm bells for employers.  Employee performance and personal health are likely to suffer as a result of overwork and could significantly set businesses back if measures aren’t taken to address these issues.  
Steve Joyce, Head of Marketing at Ceridian, who commissioned the survey, commented:  “As a key factor in employee motivation and engagement, trust between employees and their managers is crucial.  If employees’ trust in their managers continues to deteriorate, businesses could become weaker because of the knock on effect to productivity and engagement. Businesses rely on staff being motivated and engaged in normal economic circumstances and at the back end of a recession trust is now more important than ever.  It could be the deciding factor in businesses turning themselves around or going under.  
Ten top tips for building trust between managers and employees:
  • Communicate openly and honestly 

When trying to build trust with employees the importance of being as open and honest as possible should not be underestimated.  If you fail to be honest you lose the trust of your people.  When people lose faith in their employer they are less motivated to work hard and this affects productivity and ultimately the bottom line.

  • Genuinely ask for feedback 

Most businesses would say they ask their staff for feedback, but is the sentiment genuine and is the feedback acted upon?  Asking for honest feedback, responding to it and acting upon it where necessary is important, as is communicating your response to the feedback. This helps demonstrate respect and shows employees that their opinion is valued.

  • Hold regular meetings – one to one and team 

When teams are working to their full capacity tensions can easily arise.  Holding regular meetings allows the air to be cleared in an open forum and to nip in the bud issues that have the potential to become bigger problems.  Meetings can also prevent divisions from emerging and allows staff to meet line managers face to face. 

  • Have open and honest dialogue about the state of the business 

Have a communications plan to convey company news, which provides staff with clear timelines and tells them what they can expect to hear from you and when.  Keep communication lines open and make sure staff are regularly informed, even if there’s no news to tell.  You should expect to deliver bad news as soon as you can – employees may not like the news but they will respect you for being upfront. 

  • Engage employees in business decisions 

Encourage your staff in business decisions – they might have ideas that could make a real difference to your business.  Ask them to provide innovative ideas about how your organisation could save money.  It may not only prevent some headcount cuts but will also engage people in the process and make them feel involved.

  • Understand the pressures your teams are under 

In the current economic climate most employers are expecting employees to push harder, to do more for less and to provide even better results.  By demonstrating that you understand the pressure they are under you support them and show you are in touch with how they are feeling.  Talk to your teams, demonstrate that you are also getting stuck in   They need to have faith in you as a leader.

  • Recognise and reward success 

Even if you aren’t able to offer a bonus or pay rise to reward staff for their hard work, consider offering additional voluntary benefits or flexible benefits which can have little or no impact on your costs.  These give employees access to a broad range of products and services at a better price than they could get on the high street and include things like discounted shopping, holidays, travel and health insurance or a wine club.  They will really appreciate it.

  • Offer support, e.g. flexible working and employee assistance programmes, to support them through difficult times 

The recession hasn’t been an easy time for anyone.  Many individuals have found themselves with greater debt, stress, legal and emotional problems.  Consider offering flexible working or an employee assistance programme which gives employees access to confidential helplines as well as legal and financial sign-posting.  Helping them to feel more in control of their personal life means they worry less and have their job, not their problems, on their mind when they are at work.

  • Acknowledge their hard work – a simple thank you goes a long way 

It’s very important that employers publicly recognise and reward good performance.  If your budget doesn’t stretch to offering additional benefits or prizes then send a round robin email to highlight an individual’s success to a wider group.  A thank you goes a long way and does wonders for morale.  

  • Delegate bigger tasks (without overloading them!) to show you have trust in their ability 

Delegating bigger tasks – sometimes referred to as providing stretch opportunities – has multiple benefits.  This can prevent staff who might be considering leaving from doing so because they have an opportunity to develop skills and expertise in a new area.  It also shows them you have faith in their ability.  From a business perspective it means that you are stretching the abilities of your most able employees without having to take on new recruits to do the work