UK workers’ attitudes towards senior management are significantly worse than those of their US counterparts, with less than one third expressing trust and confidence in their leaders, according to consultancy Watson Wyatt.
In its WorkUK and WorkUSA surveys – which involve a representative sample of more than 15,000 private sector workers in the US and UK – Watson Wyatt found that 51% of employees in the US had trust and confidence in the job being done by their organisation’s leaders but only 31% of UK workers felt the same.
“Clearly there may be cultural factors at play here when we compare the UK and US,” said Andrew Cocks, European head of employee research at Watson Wyatt.
“But nevertheless, UK business leaders can take little comfort from these results.
"There is a clear need for a better dialogue between management and employees and the development of a real climate of openness and trust, especially if we are going to compete effectively with the US in the new ‘cheap dollar’ world.”
Watson Wyatt found that employees’ ratings of senior managers in the US had risen from a low of 44 per cent in 2002, following Enron and other high profile corporate scandals.
There is no evidence for a similar upward trend in the UK survey.
“Lack of confidence in senior management does not just make for a difficult atmosphere at work,” said Cocks.
“Our research shows that it can hit the bottom line hard. In an employee survey we recently conducted for a major European company, belief in senior management proved to be the strongest leading indicator of new product sales and was their top business performance indicator.”
According to Watson Wyatt, effective communication is a key way in which leaders can build trust with employees.
Despite this, and only months before the implementation of the new EU Directive on Informing and Consulting Employees, only 30 per cent of UK workers believe that management explains the reasons behind major decisions and as few as 18 per cent believe that management successfully involves employees in decision making.