Aug 31, 2023 - Economy

Trust gap between executives and workers widens

Share of workers who say their employer is doing well on addressing select workplace issues
Data: Edelman Trust Barometer; Note: Deskless refers to people who do not work in an office setting or remotely. Respondent countries include Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S.; Chart: Axios Visuals

There's a major trust gap between employees who sit at a desk and those who don't, according to a new Edelman report on trust in the workplace.

Why it matters: Deskless workers, such as frontline factory or retail employees, make up about 80% of the global workforce, and are the least trusting, least engaged and most likely to feel burnout, per the study.

By the numbers: Edelman surveyed roughly 7,000 global employees from July 20 to Aug. 1 and found that deskless employees increasingly feel left behind.

  • Less than half believe their employer is adequately addressing diversity, equity and inclusion issues in the workplace and only 41% of deskless employees understand their climate initiatives.

Between the lines: Deskless or frontline employees are most likely to be unionized, and are represented in 51 of the 60 American labor unions.

Zoom in: Manager-level communications is key in engaging deskless workers.

  • While they are the least trusting employee base overall, those on the frontlines are most likely to trust what they hear from their direct manager over chief executives or human resources reps.
  • According to a BCG study, "Deskless workers who are dissatisfied with their managers are 50% more likely to feel burned out, three times more likely not to recommend their employer as a place to work, and twice as likely to leave."

What they're saying: "Employees are saying, we want our voices heard and we need that know that you're listening," Edelman CEO Richard Edelman told Axios.

  • "Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan has been really smart about getting out into the stores to see and hear from employees. It's not a matter of posing for selfies, it's about understanding the employee experience," says Edelman, "So putting yourself in the worker's shoes is really fundamental to building trust."

Zoom out: All employees, regardless of where they sit, want to feel connected to the corporate strategy and understand how their work contributes to the overall goals of the company, and some are more vocal than others.

  • 1-in-2 Gen Z workers is willing to go public to push for change inside their workplace by whistleblowing, striking, leaking internal notes, taking to social media or outwardly protesting — and they are influencing their workmates to do the same.

State of play: 61% of employees are more likely to pressure an employer to change things they don't approve of due to the encouragement of their Gen Z counterparts.

  • Younger workers have also encouraged 93% of their colleagues to re-evaluate their opinions on issues like work-life boundaries, embracing new technology, fair pay, self-advocacy and employer involvement in societal issues.
  • 62% of workers report being more open to unions or labor organizations due to the influencer of young colleagues.

Yes, but: Though the trust gap in the workplace is becoming more pronounced, "my employer" still remains the most trusted institution when compared to governments, media and nonprofits.

Go deeper ... read the entire report here

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