Trust in employers is high. But so are employee expectations

A recent research report finds that employers are more trusted than many other societal institutions—including government and media. But there is a catch: That high level of trust means increased employee expectations.

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According to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust at Work survey of nearly 7,000 employees across seven countries, workers have unprecedented expectations of their employers. Particularly, an employer’s ability to provide career progression (83%), personal empowerment (80%) and societal impact (71%) are all considerations, or potential deal-breakers, during the job evaluation process.

Demographic divides in employee expectations

Cydney Roach, Edelman’s global chair of employee experience, explains that after the past three years of turmoil, employees are reevaluating work’s role in their lives and expect employers to also rethink the influence of the workplace. And that is especially true for deskless workers.

Cydney Roach
Cydney Roach

In fact, confidence in employers tends to be lower among deskless workers (72%), compared to desk workers (81%) and executives (89%).

“Our research reveals that deskless workers want to feel more engaged with their colleagues, want employers to commit to action on societal issues and embrace the employee base as information amplifiers to earn and keep trust,” she says.

Compared to executives—who generally expressed a high level of satisfaction with their employers’ performance in terms of fairness and transparency—deskless workers are less inclined to believe their employer is effectively mitigating the environmental impact of their business operations or tackling DE&I concerns, Roach says.

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For the 80% who prioritize personal empowerment, the catalyst behind that value is Gen Z, although all generations are demanding more influence within the organization.

“They want their knowledge and sentiment around strategy, operations, planning and culture to not only be heard but to be actioned,” she says, suggesting employers must build the infrastructure to operationalize worker insights and let their influence be felt at governance levels.

A workplace reset

When it comes to the top expectation, career advancement, employees polled believe such support should encompass competitive wages, work experience, learning and development, and career opportunities—all of which they called “extremely important.”

See also: Career mobility: the new college degree

“We encourage organizations to re-examine their employee value proposition and employer brand to ensure they address these issues that drive talent attraction and retention,” Roach says.

And, according to the data, employees are eager to help make such changes happen. A growing number of employees are inclined to collaborate with their employers to drive internal shifts—a 7-point increase compared to Edelman’s 2021 data—instead of resorting to whistleblowing or other forms of exposure. Ultimately, Roach says, employees want their employers to be proactive and publicly address issues like human rights, healthcare access, racial justice and union formation.

“These are the people that make your organization run and your talent strategy must mirror their professional needs in order to drive business performance,” Roach says, adding that in the end, the biggest takeaway of this year’s report is that employees are demanding a workplace reset.

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at [email protected].