Trust Me- I’m Your Leader
Shockingly, only 21% of employees trust their organization’s leadership, according to Gallup’s recent report. The majority of CEO’s agree that a lack of employee trust poses significant risk to their organization’s growth, yet many leaders are struggling to foster a culture of trust (PwC 2016 Survey).
Trust requires a sense of confidence, security, and a positive perception of the future. But with the effects of the pandemic still lingering, news of mass layoffs, forced return to in-person work, and the added pressure from rising inflation costs, 2023 may feel very unpredictable for employees. Organizational leaders now more than ever need to focus on helping their employees navigate such uncertainties by instilling a sense of trust in their capabilities as a leader.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Job insecurity is reported as the greatest fear of 85% of employees (Harvard Business Review). With 64% of Americans now living paycheck to paycheck, feeling secure is undoubtedly of high importance (CNBC). But this fear extends past financial factors alone. Work roles greatly influence self-identity and how people perceive themselves.
Many organizations have strategically built in threats to job security in hopes of increasing the performance of their employees. But what organizational effects stem from this tactic? Despite initial small boosts in short-term performance, the long-term consequences have serious implications for organizations.
Those short-winded spikes in performance can be explained by a psychological principle called loss aversion. People tend to be more motivated to avoid potential losses than to strive for a potential reward. When organizations implement fear tactics to provoke a sense of job insecurity, employees react with an energized drive to do whatever it takes to look good in the eyes of their employer. Productivity spikes, but for a limited time.
Over time, those productivity spikes begin to plummet as stress, resentment, frustration, burnout, and anxiety continue to increase. And that’s not all – employees are also more likely to break rules, engage in counterproductive, and even unethical behaviors at work. The increased cognitive load from living in a state of fear overrides rational thinking and starts to drive negative behaviors to avoid potential loss.
Status Quo Bias
The status quo bias might explain why people often choose to put up with toxic work environments even when threatened with the security of their positions. People tend to stick to what they know for the fear of change can be overwhelming. With so many uncertainties surrounding major life changes, such as pursuing a new job, people are more comfortable sticking to what they know even if they are unhappy. Hence, the quiet quitting trend. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.
So, how do leaders create a trusting work environment? By focusing on communication, consistency, and collaboration. Leaders that listen to their employees through open, two-way communication to understand their needs and expectations are better equipped to respond in a way that speaks to their employees.
Developing a talent-centric organization that recognizes and rewards employees can be another strategy for promoting a culture of trust. Employees that feel appreciated and valued for their work are more likely to remain engaged and feel invested in their company’s success.
Lantern Group has over 25 years of experience in employee motivation and incentive compensation plans- reach out today to find out how our team leverages deep insights into human behavior to craft effective communications to resonate with employees.
De Cuyper, N., Schreurs, B., De Witte, H. and Selenko, E. (2020), “Impact of job insecurity on job performance introduction”, Career Development International, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 221-228. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-06-2020-332
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