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A PayScale Report: You’re Not the Boss Of Me – Trust in the Workplace

Trust. Pop psychology tells us trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, both personal and professional.

With that in mind, PayScale wanted to see whether American workers felt trusted by their manager, whether different types of workers feel differently about trust, and how a variable level of trust impacts aspects of their job, including salary, their relationship with their manager, job satisfaction, and the likelihood that they might be searching for a new employer.

What we found should be interesting to employees looking to advance their career and to employers looking to retain their top talent.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Between June 2, 2016 and September 26, 2016, we asked 54,827 PayScale users to choose one of the following responses to complete the sentence, “My manager trusts me to …:”

  • Act and make decisions on my own
  • Act, but advise at once
  • Make recommendations, then take approved action
  • Ask what to do
  • Do nothing without being told what to do

Our findings are detailed below.*

Overall

'The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.' - Ernest HemingwayClick To Tweet

Eighty-three percent of U.S. workers say that their managers trust them to act and make decisions without direct instruction (with 71 percent saying they’re trusted to act and make decisions on their own, and 12 percent saying they’re trusted to act, but advise their managers of their actions immediately). Only one percent of respondents said that their managers do not trust them to do anything until they are told what to do.

Salary

“When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort, it is ready to climb.” –Patanjali

The more your manager trusts you, the more you make. Or is it the other way around? At any rate, the proportion of U.S. workers who report high perceived manager trust clearly increases with income, with 85 percent of workers with an income greater than $160,000 reporting that their manager trusts them to act and make decisions on their own. On the other hand, only 63 percent of workers who make up to $19,000 felt the same way.

More trust, more money; workers making more than $160K report high levels of manager trust.Click To Tweet

Experience

“People follow leaders by choice. Without trust, at best you get compliance.” –Jesse Lyn Stoner

The more experienced the worker, the more likely they are to report that their manager trusts them to take action and make decisions on their own; 76 percent of workers with more than 10 years of experience responded that their managers trust them in this way. Things are different for less-experienced workers; only 60 percent of workers with under two years of experience said their managers trust them to take action and make decisions on their own.

Race

“Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.” –Booker T. Washington

White workers reported the highest percentage of manager trust to act and make decisions on their own; 73 percent of white workers reported having this type of relationship with their manager. Interestingly, the lowest percentage of workers who reported high manager trust are Asians, with only 59 percent of Asian respondents reporting that they are trusted to act and make decisions on their own.

73% of white workers reported high levels of manager trust; only 59% of Asian workers said the same.Click To Tweet

Job Satisfaction

“You must trust and believe in people, or life becomes impossible.” –Anton Chekhov

The more trust that workers have from their managers, the more likely they are to report high job satisfaction; 72 percent of workers whose managers trust them to act and make decisions on their own are satisfied with their jobs. The percentage of satisfied workers decreases with decreasing manager trust; only 26 percent of workers whose managers trust them to do nothing without being told what to do are satisfied with their jobs.

Likelihood To Be Searching For a New Job

“He who does not trust enough will not be trusted.” –Lao Tzu

When workers are trusted to act and make decisions on their own, they’re less likely to look for a new job outside of their current company; only 54 percent of workers who feel trusted plan to seek a new job within the next six months. Conversely, a whopping 76 percent of workers who are not trusted to do anything without being told what to do plan to seek a new job within the same time period.

76% of workers who are not trusted to do anything without being told plan to seek a new job.Click To Tweet

Major takeaways from this research? High levels of managerial trust correspond with a higher salary, increased job satisfaction, and a lower likelihood of employees searching for a new job. For workers, build that trust with your manager; it’ll lead to happiness at work and potentially a higher salary. Employers, if you want to keep your employees, trust them. They’ll be more likely to be happy in their job and less likely to leave for another one.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you feel trusted by your manager? And do you believe that trust — or lack of it — is impacting your career? Yes or no, we want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

*Our question was adapted from the work of William Oncken and the Oncken Freedom Scale.


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