According to Gallup, 70% of U.S employees feel they are not engaged at work. To be exact, only a sheer 33% of employees are actively engaged, 49% not engaged, and 18% actively disengaged. These stats pick more on organizational diversity & culture, organizational trust & engagement rather than vindicating the organizational effort spend in building Good to Great / Great place to work spaces.
What keeps Employees ticking as per Gallup ? (Click to expand)
Gallup’s meta-analysis of decades’ worth of data: It shows that high engagement—defined largely as having a strong connection with one’s work and colleagues, feeling like a real contributor, and enjoying ample chances to learn—consistently leads to positive outcomes for both individuals and organizations. The rewards include higher productivity, better-quality products, and increased profitability.
The above study emerges from arguably the most comprehensive research carried out by Gallup. Focusing on how great managers inspire high performance in employees, how do they generate passion, unite disparate personalities to focus on a common purpose, and propel teams to achieve ever-higher goals?, Gallup embarked on decades long journey of research including more than 10 million employee and manager interviews spanning 114 countries.
The results, encompass 12 elements that have most impact on the bottom line. Condensing the findings in to a book namely, 12: Elements of Great Managing (published in December 2006), it enables a prescriptive approach to managers to improve employee engagement
Counter-intuitive as it may seem, on one hand organizations are focused driving higher employee engagement (this is on top 3 priorities of every HR & Business Leaders) and yet organizations find their workforces with the above dismal numbers. Definitely, there is something more to look out for, it’s time to address the dinosaur in the room.
While Organizations are focused on developing organizational culture & busy improving employee engagement, very few are actually working towards building a culture of trust, which is what makes a meaningful difference. Employees in high-trust organizations are more productive, have more energy at work, collaborate better with their colleagues, and stay with their employers longer than employees working at low-trust companies (& high employee engagement). They also suffer less chronic stress and are happier with their lives, and these factors fuel stronger performance. Also see, The Science of building high performance organization for sustained high performance & outcomes.
Thus, it would be fair to conclude the following from the above reasoning:
- High Organizational Engagement does not necessarily mean High Organizational Trust
- High Organizational Engagement does not lead to High Organization Trust
- High Organizational Trust definitely leads to building of High Performance organization, but High Engagement might not.
Dr. Paul Zak, in his insightful research on The Neuroscience of Trust (2017), quantifies the characteristics of trust at workplace: Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout. This is equally corroborated by another of most comprehensive evidence based studies undertaken by Google – Project Aristotle’s goal was to answer the question, ‘What makes a team effective at Google ?’. Psychological Safety, Dependability, Structure & Clarity, Meaning, and Impact were the driving factors to determine team’s effectiveness. Not surprisingly, the first 3 elements are closely related to culture of building trust.
High-trust organizations enjoy 25% higher productivity
High-trust organizations have 27% higher retention
Employees of high-trust organizations take 2 fewer sick days (33% reduction)
Trust or lack thereof, has a measurable impact across all the critical metrics & indicators of an organization. What is profoundly surprising is that even though we intuitively know that trust is important (in addition to above scientific validations), we are yet to determine consistent methodology to measure the trust factor within an organization.
Organizations have relied upon customer loyalty surveys or employee engagement & satisfaction surveys to determine how employees perceive the organizational sentiments & behaviors, but there is little in the way of developed metrics & measures that enables Leaders to measure organizational trust (& culture of trust building) is a critical component of responsible corporate citizenship & corporate governance (precisely, the Great Place to Work & the Good to great workplaces)
The Organizational Trust Index
Drawing upon validated research, The Organizational Trust Index assists organizations in objectively measuring 9 crucial behaviors required to build of trust. Yes, validated at neuroscience level, there are exactly (& only) 9 key behaviors that result in trust & trust building (also see, OKR’s – which equally resonate well with similar set of behaviors), thus The Organizational Trust Index enables Leaders in determining level of trust in organization and where best to build upon organization’s foundation of trust.
The Organizational Trust Index measures the following dimensions objectively:
- Recognizing Excellence Socially: Giving a social recognition to a colleague gives an oxytocin boost in both the giver and the receiver with the receiver getting the largest boost. Giving praise should be a skill that everyone in people management should develop and if possible is even institutionalized. Recognition explains 61% attribution to building of trust & draws best results, when its public, tangible & unexpected.
- Induce Challenge Stress: Characterized for high organizational trust, this behavior is critical in creating and communicating a compelling vision of the future and defining clear and challenging goals to achieve the organization’s main mission (3C’s are critical here: Compelling, Clear, Challenge). With that, it also includes continuous feedback on agreed upon performance expectations and the measurement of success. When employees have clarity on alignment & contribution individual goals to organizational strategic plans with clear benchmarks, they are significantly more productive. Challenge stress explains 72% attribution to building of trust & draws best results, when there are concrete goals to induce challenge stress.
- Autonomy: Characterized for high organizational trust, this behavior resonates with actively empowering decision making and fostering independence, as against the micro-management or standing by the shoulder syndrome with the team. Leaders shouldn’t normally be telling their employees what and how to do, but rather setting direction and ensuring that their employees are capable of solving those challenges. This granting of confidence & responsibility boosts oxytocin in both giver and receiver of this responsibility. That along with extending a helping hand to help when it’s needed – also triggers the release of oxytocin. Autonomy explains 57% attribution to building of trust, & draws best results when people are empowered to take decisions & are encouraged to learn through mistakes.
- Self Management: Characterized for high organizational trust, this behavior resonates with letting people choose what they want to work on – deliver results – and evaluate them objectively & transparently. Self Management explains 54% attribution to building of trust, & draws best results when team members choose the work they want to do, and are held accountable for it.
- Openness: Characterized for high organizational trust, this behavior resonates with actively promoting transparency & free flow of information, keeping employees at all levels informed on timely basis about decisions/actions maintain access to leaders throughout all levels of the organization. Openness explains 63% attribution to building of trust, & draws best results when team members are explained the Why, along with What & How reinforcing it frequently with deliberate communication.
- Caring: Characterized for high organizational trust, this behavior resonates with actively & deliberately cultivating collaboration, cooperation, teamwork, holding team success more important than individual success and driving emotional/social competence in all interactions with internal and external stakeholders. Caring explains 45% attribution to building of trust, & draws best results when members express their emotions & recognize emotions of others.
- Mastery: As humans, we have an innate drive to be good at things – to master them is one of 5 basic human drives. To drive this behavior, Organizations need to actively coach and develop employees, facilitate career growth and professional development, supporting self-directed learning and deploying the “signature strengths” on the job. Mastery explains 49% attribution to building of trust, & draws best results when members are enabled with whole person growth & forward focused goals.
- Authentic: Being honest, open and vulnerable at workplace is reflection of integrity, candor and honesty as well as expresses transparency, genuineness and beliefs about creating a culture where employees at all levels can do their best work. Showing vulnerability actually causes a release of oxytocin in the other person who then wants to help – releasing oxytocin for both the giver and the receiver. Being Authentic explains 46% attribution to building of trust, & draws best results when members are allowed to be imperfect, and encouraged to seek help when they feel the need for it.
- Psychological Safety: Workplaces with high psychological safety have an inherent competitive advantage, as compared to workplaces with a low score one ? A high psychological safety releases discretionary effort; whereas low psychological safety freezes it. Research unequivocally indicates that psychological safety leads to both career and business impact. Thus, when we measure high levels of psychological safety in an organization, it becomes a strong predictor of overall performance.
Building the culture of Organizational Trust is key to building high performance organization, realistically maximizing the probability of achieving strategic goals and successful realization to organizational goals. It is the cornerstone of maximization of goal attainment & a leading driver of organizational success & progress.