Study: Could trust cost you a generation of talent?

Trust in the workplace

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Our global survey of professionals in eight countries finds that less than half of global respondents have a “great deal of trust” in their current employers, bosses or colleagues.

Our Global generations study is the third annual survey undertaken on generational issues in the workplace. For this study, our objective was to understand the factors influencing trust, and a lack of trust, in the workplace.

EY surveyed approximately 9,800 adults aged 19 to 68 who are employed full-time across a variety of companies in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, the UK and the US. EY also surveyed more than 3,200 younger adults—Generation Z, aged 16 to 18—to understand how these soon-to-be professionals’ perceptions of trust might influence their future employment decisions.

We learned:

  • Less than half of global professionals trust their employer, boss or team/colleagues. Less than half of global respondents have a “great deal of trust” in their current employers (46%), boss or team/colleagues (both 49%).
  • What causes a lack of trust? The top five factors leading to respondents’ lack of trust in their employers were: unfair employee compensation, unequal opportunity for pay and promotion, lack of leadership, high employee turnover and a work environment not conducive to collaboration.
  • Which factors promote trust? The leading aspects that were “very important” to a majority of global respondents in determining the level of trust to place in their employers were:
    • “Delivers on promises” (67%)
    • “Provides job security” (64%)
    • “Provides fair compensation and good benefits” (63%)
    • “Communicates openly/transparently” (59%)
  • There was a tie for fifth place between “provides equal opportunity for pay and promotion for all people regardless of differences” and “operates ethically” (both 57%).
  • Global trust in employer, boss or team/colleagues

    EY - Global generations: Global Trust in Employers, Bosses and Team/Colleagues
    Full-time workers surveyed in Brazil, India and Mexico were the most likely to place a “great deal of trust” in their employer, boss and team/colleagues.

  • Gen Z values equal opportunity for pay and promotion, and opportunities to learn and advance are leading factors in trusting a future employer. The top factors Gen Z respondents globally said were “very important” in trusting an employer were “provides equal opportunity for pay and promotion” and “provides opportunities to learn and advance in my career” (both 66%).

Survey Methodology

The Global Generations survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of EY between 31 March and 3 May 2016 among 9,859 adults in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, the UK and the US, aged 19-68, who are employed full time. Roughly 1,200 each were surveyed in Brazil (n=1239), China (n=1228), Germany (n=1226), India (n=1234), Japan (n=1237), Mexico (n=1233), the UK (n=1229) and the US (n=1233). Quotas were set for even distribution by gender, age groups and parent status.

The Global Generation Z study was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of EY between 31 March and 25 April 2016 among 3,207 teenagers aged 16-18, with roughly 400 each in eight countries, including the US (400), Mexico (401), Brazil (400), the UK (400), Germany (401), Japan (400), China (402) and India (403). Quotas were set for even distribution by gender.

For both surveys, the data were not weighted and are therefore representative only of the individuals interviewed. A post weight was applied in the Global generations survey to give each country equal weight when showing results in an eight-country “global” total. All analyses were performed by FleishmanHillard.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, the words “margin of error” are avoided, as they are misleading. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.