A recent survey conducted by Personio, Europe’s leading HR software company for small and mid-sized businesses, has revealed a significant trust deficit among UK employees towards their organisational leadership.

According to the findings, 26 percent of respondents do not trust their CEO to be open and honest, while 24 percent lack confidence in the senior leadership’s transparency.

The study, which surveyed 2,000 employees across the UK, highlights the crucial role transparency and effective communication play in fostering a positive employee experience and trust within the workplace.

Feeling Unheard Fuels Distrust

A notable aspect contributing to the scepticism among employees is the perceived lack of opportunity to provide feedback. The research reveals that 28 percent of respondents feel they are not given a chance to share their experiences with leadership. Additionally, less than half (46%) believe their organisation’s leadership genuinely listens and acts upon feedback from staff.

Pete Cooper, Director of People Partners & DEI at Personio, emphasises the importance of two-way communication, stating, “Providing opportunities for employees to give regular feedback is crucial to engage them. Leadership must communicate with employees to demonstrate that feedback is being taken seriously.”

Reward and Progression Transparency as a Solution

Against the backdrop of a challenging economy, the study underscores the growing importance of transparency in pay and progression. A significant 61% of respondents feel that their current pay has not kept pace with inflation and the cost of living. Consequently, 56 percent of employees are more inclined to discuss their pay with colleagues.

The data suggests that increased transparency around pay, rewards, and promotions could enhance employee satisfaction and performance. Also, 63 percent of respondents would be more motivated to work towards a promotion if they had clearer insights into potential pay and remuneration. Moreover, a third (33%) would be more productive with the knowledge that opportunities for a promotion, pay rise, or bonus exist within the next year.

The Correlation between Transparency and Engagement

The research demonstrates a direct correlation between organisational transparency and employee engagement. The 5 percent of employees perceiving their organisation as ‘very transparent’ across various factors, including pay at all levels, survey results, training budgets, and non-salary rewards, reported higher levels of satisfaction, performance, and loyalty compared to their counterparts. A staggering 91 percent of these employees reported high levels of productivity and motivation at work.

Pete Cooper concluded, “Given the financial pressure on individuals due to the cost of living, businesses must recognise the impact of pay and transparency on employee satisfaction. While raising pay may not always be feasible, regular performance reviews, clear progression timelines, and comprehensive communication about total rewards packages will provide employees with reassurance, motivation, and ultimately build trust, improving overall employee engagement.”






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.