34% of employees don't trust their HR department

New data sheds light on growing disconnect between workers and HR leaders

34% of employees don't trust their HR department

Three in 10 employees don’t trust their HR manager.

That’s according to a new survey that found 34% of employees wouldn’t approach their HR representative because of sheer mistrust.

Why? Much of it is because of a lack of comfortability, according to ARRIS Composites, which did the survey.

Even if employees do trust their HR, one in three survey respondents say they don’t feel comfortable bringing up workplace issues.

How to rebuild trust in HR

To regain this lack of trust, HR departments need to build back their credibility within their organization, says Angela Champ, HR author and one of HRD’s Global 100 award-winners.

“That includes doing what you say you will, following through on commitments made, and being consistent in your behaviour,” she says. “To build credibility, all HR team members should be well-versed in the business of the business: How are decisions made at this org? How do we make money? Who are our competitors? What are the factors in the marketplace or broader environment that could impact our business, positively or negatively?”

When HR knows the business, they are seen as trusted partners who know what they're talking about, and credibility increases, says Champ, who advises staying on top of the changing environment of work so that when employees bring up issues, you can address them.

A 2021 report found that 64% of employees felt that trust has a direct impact on their sense of belonging at work.

Using resilience as a leadership tool

“It’s about the employee experience built around a common purpose… creating connections and community,” says Dr Raeleen Manjak, CHRO at the City of Vernon. “As I always say: “Together, we are better.” It’s the ability to provide purpose. To clearly articulate a sense of direction and a sense of hope through values driven leadership — empathy, authenticity, clarity.

Resilience and trust are strategic advantages, she says.

“Resilience is a muscle that is strengthened each and every time we adapt to a change event. If the past few years are not defined as a major change event, I do not know what would be. The pandemic has amplified the need for organizational agility. The ability to create an environment to hear diverse voices and to create a sense of belonging.”

Workplace dissatisfaction

One in four workers said that their company culture is “lacking”, with 32% adding they wish their HR departments did more to promote team building and yet more trust.

So, what’s driving the workplace dissatisfaction? According to ARRIS, 67% of employees say their employer could be doing more to improve company culture, and one in three want to see more flexibility with day-off requests and sick days – something that’s come to the fore for Canadians in recent weeks.

According to the research, the pandemic has impacted every aspect of the employee life, including workplaces and how employees view HR. In fact, the data highlighted that 69% of employee set stricter work-life boundaries now than they did two years ago.

Despite this emphasis on greater work-life balance, 20% of employees report working in a toxic environment, and 40% are planning to look for a new job in 2023 – worrying indeed in today’s tight talent market, finds ARRIS.

So how can HR leaders turn the tide of ennui before it’s too late? According to the report, employees are craving very specific trends in 2023. In the New Year, 62% of employees want to see more competitive salaries, while 29% want upward mobility opportunities, and a further 28% want more PTO and vacation benefits.

“Half of employees say company culture is very important to them,” says an ARRIS spokesperson. “It’s apparent, especially now as many Americans have transitioned to remote workplaces, that employees want to see more from their company and their HR teams in 2023.”

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