April 23, 2014
Employee Distrust is Pervasive in U.S. Workforce
APA survey finds only half of workers believe their employer is open and upfront with them
WASHINGTON — Despite the rebound in the U.S. economy and an improving job market, nearly 1 in 4 workers say they don’t trust their employer and only about half believe their employer is open and upfront with them, according to the American Psychological Association’s 2014 Work and Well-Being Survey released today.
While almost two-thirds (64 percent) of employed adults feel their organization treats them fairly, 1 in 3 reported that their employer is not always honest and truthful with them. “This lack of trust should serve as a wake-up call for employers,” says David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, head of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence. “Trust plays an important role in the workplace and affects employees’ well-being and job performance.”
“The layoffs, benefit cuts and job insecurity that accompanied the recession put a strain on the employee-employer relationship and people aren’t quick to forget,” added Ballard. Workers reported having more trust in their company when the organization recognizes employees for their contributions, provides opportunities for involvement and communicates effectively.
Although a majority of workers reported being satisfied with their job overall, less than half said that they are satisfied with the growth and development opportunities (49 percent) and employee recognition practices (47 percent) where they work. More than a quarter (27 percent) of U.S. workers said they intend to seek new employment in the next year.
The gender pay gap may also be at play, with employed women being less likely than employed men to report that they receive adequate monetary compensation (42 percent of women versus 54 percent of men). The survey was conducted online among 1,562 U.S. workers from Jan. 28 to Feb. 4, 2014, on behalf of APA by Harris Poll.
The survey also found that workers who feel valued by their employer are more likely to be engaged in their work. Employees who feel valued were significantly more likely to report having high levels of energy, being strongly involved in their work and feeling happily engrossed in what they do. Additionally, those who felt valued by their employer were more likely to report being satisfied with their job (92 percent of those who felt valued versus 29 percent of those who do not) and to say they are motivated to do their best (91 percent versus 37 percent) and to recommend their employer to others (85 percent versus 15 percent).
Employees who felt valued were also less likely to say they feel stressed out during the work day (25 percent versus 56 percent of those who do not feel valued) and more likely to report being in good psychological health (89 percent versus 69 percent of those who do not feel valued).
While more than 6 in 10 employed adults (61 percent) say they have the resources to manage the work stress they experience, almost one-third (31 percent) report typically feeling tense or stressed out during the workday. The most commonly cited sources of work stress were low salaries (51 percent say that it is a significant source of stress) and lack of opportunity for growth and advancement (44 percent). Unclear job expectations, job insecurity and long hours were also among the top five most frequently cited sources of work stress.
“The emphasis in recent years on employee wellness is a step in the right direction, but the psychological factors are often overlooked,” says Ballard. “It’s clear that an organizational culture that promotes and supports openness, honesty, transparency and trust is key to a healthy, high-performing workplace.”
APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence
APA's Center for Organizational Excellence works to enhance the functioning of individuals, groups, organizations and communities through the application of psychology to a broad range of workplace issues. The center houses the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program, a public education initiative designed to engage the employer community, raise public awareness about the value psychology brings to the workplace and promote programs and policies that enhance employee well-being and organizational performance.
The center also offers the following resources for employers:
- Good Company newsletter and blog, featuring tips, tools and other resources to help employers create a healthy, high-performing work environment.
- A searchable database of professional, academic and popular press literature related to employee well-being and organizational performance.
- Case examples and best practices from award-winning organizations.
- Webcasts and online courses for human resource professionals, benefits managers, health and wellness professionals, organizational consultants and business leaders.
- A calendar of events with information about conferences from a variety of disciplines, including psychology, human resources, health promotion and employee benefits.
About the Survey
The workplace survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association between Jan. 28 and Feb. 4, 2014, among 1,562 adults aged 18 and older who reside in the U.S. and are either employed full time, part time or self-employed. A full methodology is available online (PDF, 635KB).
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes nearly 130,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.