Research: How To Build Trust In The Workplace

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Leadership IQ surveyed 7209 executives, managers and employees to assess trust in the workplace. We wanted to know three things…

  • Does trust matter (i.e. does trust predict organizational performance)?
  • How much trust presently exists in our organizations?
  • What aspects of trust are most critical for improving organizational performance?

Trust Predicts Employee Loyalty
When the extent to which employees trust their direct boss increases, their desire to spend their career at their current organization increases. The results of this study suggest that approximately 32% of a worker’s desire to stay or go is the result of feeling (or not feeling) trust towards their boss.

There’s Not Enough Trust
While trust is a significant driver of employee loyalty, there’s still room to improve the overall levels of trust in today’s organizations. Only 20% of people strongly trust the top management of their organization. 36% moderately trust their top management, while the remaining 44% range from not trusting to strongly distrusting their top management.

What Drives Trust?
This study identified 5 aspects of trust that were the best predictors of employee loyalty. In order of importance, they are…

  1. If I shared my work problems with my direct boss, I know that he/she would respond constructively.
  2. My direct boss makes smart decisions.
  3. My direct boss is honest and truthful.
  4. My direct boss helps me grow and develop professionally.
  5. I receive consistent direction from my direct boss.

If you want to leverage the power of trust to increase employee loyalty, the most efficient course of action is to actively work on the above five factors.

THE SURVEY

Respondents were asked to rate themselves on Leadership IQ’s Workplace Trust Survey, an 11-item Likert scale questionnaire. All items were rated on a 5-point scale ranging from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree. Questions were gleaned from interviews with thousands of employees and leaders across various industries about their perceptions of what constitutes a trusting relationship in the workplace, and the top questions were included in the survey. Several experimental questions were also included as part of other ongoing research projects.

 A single item was added to the questionnaire as the dependent variable to measure workplace loyalty. This question, I would like to spend my career with this organization, is taken from Leadership IQ’s employee survey.

Survey Questions:

  1. If I shared my work problems with my direct boss, I know that he/she would respond constructively.
  2. If I shared my work problems with my direct boss, I know that he/she would respond empathically.
  3. My direct boss is honest and truthful.
  4. I receive consistent direction from my direct boss.
  5. My direct boss thoughtfully considers my ideas.
  6. My direct boss makes smart decisions.
  7. I understand how my direct boss makes decisions.
  8. My direct boss holds me accountable when I make mistakes.
  9. My direct boss holds others accountable when they make mistakes.
  10. My direct boss recognizes my achievements.
  11. My direct boss helps me grow and develop professionally.

RESULTS

To determine which, if any, of the 11 responses from Leadership IQ’s Workplace Trust Survey were predictive of workplace loyalty, the questions were subject to a stepwise multiple regression analysis, with the 11 questions as the independent variables, and the Loyalty question as the dependent variable. The order in which the items were entered into the model were determined on statistical grounds. Questions with the highest correlation to I would like to spend my career with this organization were entered into the model first, with each additional response entered according to their unique contribution to the model.

Overall, a moderate association was found between trust of boss as measured by the Workplace Trust Survey and Loyalty to the organization (Multiple R = .5699, see the table on the next page).

Responses to If I share my work problems with my direct boss, I know that he/she would respond constructively were found to be the strongest predictor of Loyalty, accounting for 26% of the variance in Loyalty score (R2= .2608, t = 7.07, p < .0001). Next, My direct boss makes smart decisions and My direct boss is honest and truthful contributed an additional 3% (R2= .2956, t = 9.222, p < .0001) and 2% (R2= .3102, t= 9.11, p < .0001) to the variance, respectively. Additional questions were also found to significantly predict Loyalty. These were My direct boss helps me to grow and develop professionally and I receive consistent direction from my direct boss (See the table on the next page). Other questions were found to be significant at lower levels (>.001), but not found to add meaningfully to the model.

TABLE OF MULTIPLE REGRESSION RESULTS

TRUST REGRESSION RESULTS

 

DISCUSSION

This study explored how workers’ perceptions of different dimensions of trust are predictive of their loyalty to their organization. Overall, it was discerned that high perceptions of trust of one’s boss are moderately good predictors of that worker’s loyalty to their workplace. In short, the more a worker trusts his or her direct boss, the more likely he or she will remain in an organization. The results of this study suggest that approximately 32% of a worker’s desire to stay or go is the result of feeling or not feeling trust towards their boss.

While this appears to be true, it was discerned that five particular dimensions of trust or creating trust were the best at predicting that a worker would remain.  Having a boss who listens constructively to a worker’s on-the-job problems was found to be the strongest predictor of loyalty to an organization, accounting for fully 26% of their wanting to stay or go.  Additionally, perceiving that their boss makes good decisions and is honest with them, contribute incrementally an additional 3% and 2%. Perceiving that their boss is helping with professional growth added 1% to their decision.

APPENDIX: STUDY DEMOGRAPHICS

Opportunity to participate in the Leadership IQ Workplace Trust Survey was offered to 15,000 employees, managers, and executives across all industries. A total of 7209 respondents completed the survey. For a demographic breakdown of respondents, see the table below. Overall, respondents tended to be at the managerial level or higher, between 40 and 60 years old, college educated, and making over $50,000.

Demographic

Response Percent

Category

 

Non­Managerial

13%

Supervisor

5.2%

Manager

30%

Director

27.7%

Executive

19.7%

CEO

4.3%

 

 

Age

 

Under 30

2.8%

31 – 40

16.7%

41 – 50

35.5%

51 – 60

37.1%

61 – 70

7.6%

Over 70

0.4%

 

 

Education

 

High School or GED

1.9%

Some College

10.1%

Associate or Technical Degree

6.4%

College or Undergraduate Degree

39%

Graduate Degree

41.5%

Other

1.1%

 

 

Salary Range

 

Under $50,000

11.8%

$50,000 ­ $99,000

55.4%

Over $100,000

32.8%

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Mark Murphy on 08 July, 2017 Research | 0 comments
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