Employment is a relationship, and just like any relationship trust is important in employment. Understanding the global trust level that the employer has with its employee’s can provide some interesting, if startling revelations about your workplace. One of the quickest ways to measure trust in an organization is how much money can you spend before you need someone’s permission to spend it (factoring in your position etc)?
Here’s an example, I was working with a large organization and was asked to assist in writing a memo to the executive regarding an expenditure, the cost was around $900 for a morning and afternoon tea for a large group of people – the actual cost per head was very very low. The organization had a policy that any food-related expenditure beyond a specific amount had to receive executive approval. So the memo was written, which went to the area’s manager, then up to the General Manager of HR, then up to the Executive. I’m a time analysis kind of person, indeed return on investment was the topic of my thesis, anyway I estimated that that memo probably cost around $500 (and this was a conservative estimate without taking into account lost productivity/opportunity costs) by the time it went through the different layers of management and back again.
So trust didn’t feature greatly in this organisations culture – indeed they preferred to take on additional cost rather than trust employees, and this brought about other issues with its workforce. Just like a marriage, trust is important within an employment relationship, without it your HR department is going to be very busy dealing with issues that arise from a trust-less ‘marriage’, not the least of which is going to be increased turnover.