30313300_sAccording to research by BlessingWhite, a leadership development and employee engagement consultancy, there are five levels of employee engagement. Between engaged and disengaged, there are almost engaged employees, honeymooners and hamsters, and crash and burners.

Almost engaged employees are high performers who are reasonably satisfied at work and worth investing in, but are sometimes inconsistent. Honeymooners and hamsters are probably happy enough but aren’t in a position to contribute fully. Honeymooners are new and hamsters are hard workers working on non-essential tasks. Crash and Burners are high performers who aren’t achieving career success and are on the verge of dissatisfaction.

You probably have varying levels of engagement in your workforce. The ideal employee is a fully engaged employee who is highly productive and highly satisfied with the job and the company. But the reality is that employers have to work hard to recognize employee talents, motivations, and attitudes and create the kind of workplace that keeps them happy and productive. In addition to meaningful work, great management, growth opportunities, and positive work environment, Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte says that trust in leadership is important when creating amazing workplaces that attract and keep top talent.


Build Trust and Build Engagement

According to workplace performance improvement company Interaction Associates, only 40 percent of workers trust their bosses or organizations they work for, and 54 percent trust their co-workers with their ideas and opinions more than their company’s leaders. Interaction Associates research also showed that 80 percent of employees believe trust inside organizations fosters innovation.

Leaders can build trust by asking for input from employees about things that affect them at work, explain why decisions are being made, provide the resources and learning opportunities employees need to be successful in their jobs, admit when they make mistakes, and don’t retaliate against or shun employees who raise concerns or discuss issues in the workplace, business, or industry.


How to Know if Employees Trust Management

Trust is based on honesty, confidence, and the ongoing belief that the person, group, or organization management will follow through with commitments that have been made. It’s the cumulative result of management decisions made over a period of time to communicate clearly, not hide or lie about anything, and help employees feel good about the company’s direction and future.

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According to Watson Wyatt’s WorkUSA 2009 survey, a key predictor of employee trust is how effective the HR department is. The research shows that when employees feel the HR department is effective, 62 percent of them feel they can trust the organization. The opposite is also found to be true: when HR is seen as ineffective, only 8 percent of them trust management. While HR doesn’t build trust in an organization (management has to do it), HR is integral in maintaining it with communication and good change-management.


What the Experts Say

Experts in recruiting, HR, and employee engagement like Josh Bersin talk about trust in leadership as one of the new talent imperatives in 2015. It’s not an option to lie or keep things from your workforce if an organization needs to attract top talent. It’s a requirement to have leaders who genuinely care about employees and know how to support a high performing workforce.

Yeti founder and president Tony Scherba says great leaders have to have and share their vision, and they shouldn’t hide anything from employees because they’ll know it. Dasheroo co-founder Peter Barron Stark agrees that it’s important to share a vision, saying that keeping information from employees makes them mistrustful and feel disconnected. Katherine Hosie of Powerhouse Coaching Inc. advises leaders not to be afraid of the truth or beat themselves up about uncomfortable truths. She says looking at it is important to be able to address it and move on effectively.

If you have more honeymooners and hamsters and crash and burners in your workforce than engaged and almost engaged employees, take a long hard look at trust in leadership. Be truthful when you assess it. Does management avoid reporting bad news to employees, feeling it will cause bad morale? Do key managers actually lie to employees mistaking it as motivation, or worse, to avoid dealing with harsh realities? Or does your management team work and communicate openly, ethically, and honestly while working to build and maintain an engaged workforce? If you talk to the experts, they’ll pick that last option every time.


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