EY research reveals less than half of full-time workers surveyed globally trust their employer, boss or colleagues a great deal
New York, 21 June 2016
Research also finds Gen Z values equal opportunity for pay and promotion and opportunities to learn and advance as leading factors in trusting a future employer
EY released new Global Generations 3.0 research today that found less than half of full-time workers surveyed globally between the ages of 19-68, in eight countries, place a “great deal of trust” in their employer, boss, or colleagues. A separate EY survey of Generation Z, ages 16-18, found that the top factors global respondents say are “very important” in trusting an employer are provides “equal opportunity for pay and promotion” and “opportunities to learn and advance in my career.”
- Globally, the factor most frequently cited as “very important” in determining trust in an employer is “delivers on promises.” For Gen Z respondents, it’s a tie between “equal opportunity for pay and promotion” and “opportunities to learn and advance in my career.”
- Gen X was the generation least likely to place a “great deal of trust” in their current employer.
- Full-time workers surveyed in India, Mexico and Brazil are among the most likely to place “a great deal of trust” in their current employer and those in Japan, the UK and US are the least likely.
- Among respondents ages 19-68 that place “very little” to “no trust” in their current employer, the top four factors that contribute to this lack of trust are tied to compensation –including “equal opportunity for pay and promotion”– along with “lack of strong leadership,” “too much employee turnover”, and “not fostering a collaborative work environment.”
- About a third of global respondents employed full-time don’t expect to get a raise or bonus this year with the highest percentage of these respondents in Germany, Japan, the UK and the US. In most countries a higher percentage of women than men don’t expect to get a raise/bonus in 2016.
- Respondents with a low level of trust in their company said it would majorly influence them to look for another job (42%), work only the minimum number of hours required (30%) and be less engaged/productive (28%).
"The purpose of this research is to present a global snapshot of the state of trust in the workplace today as well as to gain meaningful insight into what people around the world consider most important,” said Karyn Twaronite, EY Global Diversity & Inclusiveness Officer. “Giving individuals a forum to voice their opinions on what factors truly influence their level of trust in an employer, boss or team, not only helps guide us as we continue to build a culture that is more inclusive of all views and differences, but also helps pave the way for us to be more progressive as modern trustworthy organizations, well into the future.”
The online survey of over 9,800 full-time workers, age 19-68, at companies of varying sizes in eight countries, explored a wide variety of areas including: trust in employers, bosses, and teams as well as factors behind trust, and lack of trust, in the workplace. The EY study included a sidebar survey of Generation Z, or 3,207 teens age 16-18, regarding what trust factors were important for them, who they will trust the most when making decisions about their first full-time employer, and what impact their parents’ or guardians’ work experience has had on Gen Z. Both surveys were conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of EY in the US, Germany, Japan, China, Mexico, Brazil, India and the UK. The main survey of respondents ages 19-68 includes analysis of key findings by geography, generation, gender, and parent status. The survey of Gen Z includes analysis by gender and geography.
Global Trust in Employers, Bosses and Team/Colleagues
The implications of this research reveal a number of actionable opportunities that C-suite executives across the globe can implement to positively enhance trust for their organization. This includes CEO transparency, open communications, a diverse and inclusive culture and a commitment to equity and fairness.
“Our global research sheds some light on the determinants of trust across generations, including Gen Z,” said Twaronite. “We found that parents of Gen Z often both positively and negatively impact the level of trust this next wave of talent are looking for in their future employers. The impact of this could be far-reaching, so by understanding these factors, and proactively taking action on them, employers, bosses and teams can help to build trust for the workforce of today as well as tomorrow.”
Following are some additional top findings:
Trust is lacking in the workplace
- Less than half of full-time employed respondents globally, ages 19-68, place a “great deal of trust” in their employer (46%), boss or colleagues (both 49%).
- Full-time workers surveyed in India, Mexico and Brazil are among the most likely to place “a great deal of trust” in their current employer (66%, 65% and 59%, respectively). Respondents in Japan, the UK, and the US, are least likely to do so (21%, 33% and 38%), respectively.
- In most countries, a higher percentage of respondents place a “great deal of trust” in their boss and teams/colleagues than employers. For US respondents, there was a notable 12 percentage point difference in placing a great deal of trust in their boss (50%) compared with their employer (38%), the largest gap among all eight countries.
- Gen X is the least likely to trust among the generations. In the US, a slightly larger percentage of Millennials surveyed trust their employer, boss and team/colleagues than older generations.
- Globally, a higher percentage of full-time working Baby Boomers (ages 51-68) place a “great deal of trust” in their employer (51%), boss (52%) and team/colleagues (53%) than other generations.
- Gen X (ages 35-50) are the least likely to place this level of trust in their employer (41%) and boss (46%). Millennials (ages 19-34) are in the middle for placing this much trust (employer 45%, boss 50%).
- In the US, a larger percentage of Millennials place a great deal of trust in their employer (42%), boss (52%) and team/colleagues (48%) than other generations.
What are the major factors for trusting employers?
- What factors are “very important” in determining the level of trust in an employer?
- The leading aspects that are “very important” to a majority of global respondents ages 19-68 in determining the level of trust to place in their employer are: “delivers on promises” (67%); “provides job security” (64%); “provides fair compensation and good benefits” (63%); and “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” (57%).
- Close to two in five respondents (38%) say a “very important” determinant of trust is working for a company that has a “diverse environment” (meaning it strives to recruit, retain and promote diverse people with all differences including gender, country of origin, and thinking style).”
- Globally, the biggest percentage point differences between women and men are “provides equal opportunity for pay and promotion for all people regardless of differences” (women 61%, men 52%); and “has a diverse environment” (42% women, 33% men).
- In the US there is a greater gender gap in the factors of trust in some areas than for global respondents. “Provides equal opportunity for pay and promotion” had a 24 percentage point difference in the US for women and men, versus nine percentage points globally, when rating this factor as “very important”.
- Three-fourths of US women (74%) say this factor is “very important” but only half of men (50%) do. A higher percentage of US women (74%) say this is a “very important” factor than respondents in any other country.
What are the major factors behind lack of trust in employers?
- Close to one in six respondents globally had “very little” or “no trust” in their current employer (15%).
- Among those who say they have “very little” or “no trust” in their current employer, the top five factors that led them to say this are: “employee compensation is not fair” (53%); “does not provide employees with equal opportunity for pay and promotion” (48%); “lack of strong leadership” (46%); “too much employee turnover - voluntary and/or involuntary” (43%); and “does not foster a collaborative work environment” (43%).
- About a third of global respondents don’t expect to get a raise or bonus this year.
- Globally, 36% of respondents don’t expect to get a raise or bonus this year or “will get extra paid time off, but no raise/bonus,” with Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US in the lead (54%, 51%, 44% and 38%, respectively).
- In all countries but India (17% men, 11% women), a higher percentage of women don’t expect to get a raise/bonus in 2016 than men. The percentage point difference is highest for women in the UK (50% women, 39% men).
- Only about a third of full-time workers surveyed globally say they have a “great deal of trust” that “there won’t be any negative consequences” to their career for taking time off for child or eldercare and less than two in five say this about paid parental leave.
- Close to half (49%) of respondents globally cited “encourages managing my work-life responsibilities by offering flexibility in when and where I work” as a very important factor in trusting their current employer.
- Yet only about a third of respondents globally say they had a “great deal of trust” that “there won’t be any negative consequences” to their career for “taking time off for childcare or eldercare (32%) or “working flexibly” (34%). Less than two out of five (39%) say this about “taking parental leave.”
- Fewer than half of respondents had a “great deal of trust” that there would be no repercussions for “taking paid time off” (47%) and less than three in five (59%) say this about “taking leave for the death of a family member.”
What impact would a low level of employee trust have on full-time workers?
- Globally, respondents with a low level of trust in their company said this would have a major influence on their likelihood to look for another job (42%), work only the minimum number of hours required (30%) and be less engaged/productive (28%).
- Globally, women were more likely than men to be majorly influenced to take all of these actions if they had a low level of trust in their employer, particularly “looking for another job” (44% women, 40% men) and “working only the minimum number of hours required” (33% women, 27% men).
What influences Gen Z’s trust in a future employer?
- EY’s research also included a separate survey of Generation Z. Two thirds (66%) of Gen Z respondents cited pay and promotion equity and opportunities to learn and advance as “very important” for trust in a current or future employer. A higher percentage of US women Gen Z respondents (86%) cited equal opportunity for pay and promotion as a “very important” factor of trust in a future employer than other countries.
- Other “very important” factors include: “provides fair compensation and good benefits” (64%); “provides job security (doesn’t terminate a large number of employees or terminate employees too often)” (62%); and “encourages managing my work-life responsibilities by offering flexibility in when and where I work” (52%). Over four in 10 (44%) say has a diverse environment” (44%) is “very important.”
- A higher percentage of US Gen Z respondents (71%) cited job security as a “very important” factor than Gen Z respondents in all other countries.
- Also, US Gen Z women respondents (86%) are 13-16 percentage points more likely to say equal opportunity for pay and promotion is very important when determining how much trust to place in an employer compared with a similar question asked to Millennial (70%) and Gen X women (73%). The only female generation with a similar percentage in the US is Boomer women (81%).
- Close to 1 in 5 US Gen Z respondents (18%) report that their parents work experience had a “very or somewhat negative” impact on how much they will trust future employers.
- Who does Gen Z trust to help make an employment decision? Mom!
- Asked who they would trust when making an employment decision for future full-time jobs, Gen Z say they are “very likely” to trust their mother (58%) followed by their father (53%). The other top five are: teacher/professor (39%), siblings (36%) and current employees, including interns (35%).
- Mothers were the top influencer that Gen Z are “very likely” to trust in an employment decision for both genders in all eight countries with the exception of men in Japan.
“The research findings underscore the importance of cultivating a workplace culture that values open communication, inclusive leadership and collaboration – the true building blocks of trust. Senior executives who understand the factors that impact trust within their organizations will be able to drive employee engagement and retention,” said Nancy Altobello, EY’s Global Vice Chair, Talent. “We find that engaged employees make for the highest performing teams, which are then able to deliver exceptional client service and innovative solutions.”
The survey is EY’s third on workplace generational issues. In 2013, EY explored the interplay between generations in the workforce and how companies could maximize performance by actively managing the generational mix. In 2015, EY delved into work-life issues, particularly for millennials, to inform companies on the external factors that influence the decisions, ambitions and priorities of full-time workers globally.
To access more in depth geography, gender or generations findings view the executive summary here. To learn more about EY’s previous global generation reports, visit www.ey.com.
The Global Generations survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of EY between March 31 and May 3, 2016 among 9859 adults in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, U.K. and U.S., aged 19-68 who are employed full time. Roughly 1200 each were surveyed in Brazil (n=1239), China (n=1228), Germany (n=1226), India (n=1234), Japan (n=1237), Mexico (n=1233), the U.K. (n=1229), and the U.S. (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 March 31 and April 25, 2016 among 3207 teenagers aged 16-18, with roughly 400 each in eight countries, including the U.S. (400), Mexico (401), Brazil (400), the U.K. (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.
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