Majority of employees feel trust is important for workplace culture: Study

Building trust across generations requires multifaceted approach

Majority of employees feel trust is important for workplace culture: Study - CIO&Leader

Majority of employees (53%) feel trust is important for workplace culture and building trust across generations requires multifaceted approach, according to Mavenlink’s Future of Work survey. The survey was about generational differences in the modern workplace and examined the idea of trust as a pillar of strong work cultures, highlighting how important trust is to people of all ages and illustrating how leaders might work to build trust within their organizations. The survey was conducted in late 2019 among 1,002 individuals employed full-time in a business/corporate environment.

Trust Important to All Generations
Respondents were asked to list their top three preferences for what enables a workplace culture that creates success. A majority of respondents (53%) selected “trust.”

The 18 to 24-year-old (45%) and 25 to 34-year-old (46%) age groups selected trust as an important part of a strong workplace culture less often than did the entire sample of respondents (53%). This finding suggests a bit of a generational difference in terms of how important trust is to people.

“In uncertain times, it is imperative for employers to foster a work environment built on trusting relationships,” said Ray Grainger, CEO, Mavenlink. “The recent increase in the number of remote workers is an opportunity for organizations to listen to the needs of employees, provide flexible work schedules and support employee well-being. This will foster trust between employees and employers as well as build a culture that helps bridge any divide between different generations.”

Younger Employees Don’t Trust Employers to Mitigate Burnout
Today, many people seem overwhelmed with their jobs. Being overwhelmed can lead to burnout and other issues. If left unchecked, these problems can deteriorate the trust employees are able to place in their employers. This global-health crisis has highlighted tenuous relationships many people have with their jobs. However, even before this pandemic, that fact was on full display: Respondents noted the following concerns with their jobs, concerns that can easily damage relationships with employers:

  • All but two of the people surveyed are “employed full-time,” yet 54% of people aged 18-44 have a “side hustle” or hold more than one job.
  • Over one-quarter (27%) of 18 to 24-year-olds plan to change jobs next year due to burnout.
  • 46% of workers plan to change their jobs in the next year for better pay.

These findings show that younger people are likely to leave their current jobs because of being overwhelmed. Leaders that wish to build trusting relationships with their employees must take these perceived frustrations into account when they develop culture-building programs. Now, with a crisis unfolding and workforces suddenly remote and distributed, company leadership has an especially crucial job of encouraging trust-building among everyone within its organization.

Generational Distrust Also a Workplace Contention
Generational lines also exist within companies. These differences can make it difficult for leaders to create trusting workplace cultures. Indeed, ninety percent of all respondents think other generations have different workplace needs and wants. The generational divide runs deeper. Half of all respondents believe management is out of touch with their generation.

  • However, 18 to 24-year-olds (65%), 25 to 34-year-olds (54%), 35 to 44-year-olds (56%) believe management is out of touch. 
  • 60% of 45 to 54-year-olds, 66% of 55 to 64-year-olds, and 66% of those over the age of 65 do not believe management is out of touch with their generation.
  • While 51% of all respondents think their generation has it tougher than others, younger people more often report thinking their generation has it tougher than others. 64% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 56% of 25 to 34-year-olds feel their generation has it tougher than others.

The double-edged sword here is that 63% of all respondents believe their “employer/manager” takes generational differences into account to accommodate people’s different work styles. However, younger people (aged 44 and younger) felt this way more than the group as a whole (67% for that age cohort compared to 63% overall) while older generations less often reported feeling this way than the group as a whole.

The survey suggests that younger generations feel more frustrated than older colleagues with their workplace environments. However, leadership cannot simply overcorrect their culture-building processes in favor of younger generations, as older employees are already less inclined to feel their needs are being taken into account. Organizational leadership must adopt a multifaceted approach to building trust within their companies, one that addresses both the concerns employees have with burnout, as well as generational differences that exist.


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