Trust in the Post-Recession Era

Just as in marriage, trust is an important component of a well-running organization.

 But a new poll by Maritz suggests that trust is waning within the walls of Corporate America.

 Approximately one-quarter of employees report having less trust in management than they did last year, and only 10 percent of employees trust management to make the right decision in times of uncertainty.

The percentage increases to 16 percent among employees 18-24 years of age who only recently entered the workforce and didn’t directly experience many of the management scandals of the past 10 years, according to the online survey of 1,857 individuals who work 30+ hours a week, are at least 18 years of age and are not self-employed.

And the feedback only gets grimmer for management:

Slightly more than one in 10 Americans (14 percent) believes their company’s leaders are ethical and honest. In addition, the poll found that only 12 percent of employees believe their employer genuinely listens to and cares about its employees, and only seven percent of employees believe senior management’s actions are completely consistent with their words.

“Employee trust is such a critical factor for success, especially given what the American workforce has faced the past several years. This data paints such a dire picture of employee trust levels, management must ask themselves how they can better engage with their people,” said Rick Garlick, Ph.D., senior director of strategic consulting and implementation, Maritz Hospitality Research Group.

“A strong indicator of management mistrust is lack of shared values,” he continued. “Companies must align their overall values as an organization with those individual values of their people. Knowing that you work for a company whose values are similar to yours drives loyalty and strengthens trust.”

So, sharing values can build trust between partners? Sounds like good advice for both marriage and business.


More on LinkedIn’s Move to Block Access to Data

Just to update my Fighting Over Facebook post below, I wanted to add an official statement by Monster:

“We are surprised and disappointed by LinkedIn’s decision, which we believe not only goes against the interests of LinkedIn users, but also contradicts what LinkedIn claims to stand for – openness and connectivity. Professional networkers are social in nature and LinkedIn has just limited their ability to connect when and where they want. They’ve taken away users’ rights to control how and when they can share their own profile data and personal contacts.”

Monster’s vice president of product management Matthew Mund also blogged about the issue, here.

As one of Mund’s commenters noted: “The fundamental question here is “Who owns the data?” This stance by LinkedIn would indicate that end-users DO NOT if they are unable to access and move things like contacts or recommendations at will. …  I think we might find 100 million customers surprised to find that the crowd-sourced data that they have shared is no long theirs.”

Should be interesting to watch what happens …

Posture Really May Produce Power

Before you dismiss the premise that standing up straight can actually empower you in your next conversation with your CEO, consider the fact that such a premise is actually based on a study by researchers at Harvard and Columbia universities. Here is it, as it was published in Psychological Science, appropriately entitled “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance.”

The research — by Harvard’s Amy Cuddy and Columbia’s Dana Carney, along with Columbia graduate student Andy J. Yap — is actually based on hormone levels that get triggered by certain “power poses,” according to the study.

It shows that people (both men and women) who take time to compose themselves and pose in open, confident positions experience a surge in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol. The former hormone is related to an increase in feelings of power and tolerance for risk, whereas the latter gets triggered as a reaction to stress.

As noted in a Sept. 25 story on, the researchers “have confirmed something mothers have long taught their children: Sit up straight, shoulders back, posture counts.”

So, no surprise that an employee-development company called Employee Development Systems Inc. has just come out with a new product based on this research. It’s a course, actually, entitled “Professional Presence in a Casual World,” and according to this release about it (including a link to the company at the bottom of the page), some leading global orgranizations are already using it, or at least looking into it.

“Both domestic and international organizations are taking notice of this latest research,” the release states, “implementing professional-presence training, from front-line customer-service employees to middle managers, executives and leaders.

“While the focus for each job category varies,” it states, “the general strategies stay the same. Professional presence impacts business in ways we couldn’t have imagined in the past, and at a time when organizations are looking for an edge over competition, leaders are taking advatage of the core tactics of nonverbal communications to ensure that they come out on top.”

HR executives looking for every possible way to establish themselves as strategic partners of their CEOs, equally powerful in their leadership and negotiating skills as anyone else in the C-suite … well … they might want to think about their body language before knocking on their CEO’s door.

SumTotal’s New Additions

More consolidation on the technology front earlier today with SumTotal Systems’ acquisitions of strategic workforce management and expense software maker CyberShift and HRMS supplier Accero (the former Cyborg Systems).

The moves come roughly two years after Vista Equity Partners took SumTotal private and one year after SumTotal acquired Softscape, a provider of talent-management software.

Lisa Rowan, program director for HR, learning and talent management strategies research at IDC, believes the “net new here is CyberShift,” since Vista already owned Accero. “Not to coin a phrase, but [SumTotal acquiring Accero] is like bringing together cousins here,” she says.

Considering the Softscape acquisition already gave SumTotal a recordkeeping component, Rowan observes, it’s probably not surprising SumTotal’s press release emphasizes Accero’s expertise in payroll and benefits and not those applications that overlap with Softscape’s suite.

And what about the CyberShift piece? In a post on the HR Technology® Conference LinkedIn group page, HR Technology columnist Bill Kutik wrote he’s heard Accero’s HRMS clients were “screaming for Workforce Management functionality as their #1 priority” and that “Accero was looking at acquiring CyberShift on its own before Vista decided to put them all together.”

No doubt more clarity on these deals in the coming days, including what SumTotal plans to do with CyberShift’s expense-management piece (one of a number of questions Rowan says she has).

Maybe Auto-Enrollment Isn’t So Perilous, After All

EBRI released a clarification, essentially disputing the Wall Street Journal’s angle on its story about auto-enrollment and retirement savings, which Andy wrote about earlier today.

In its statement, Jack VanDerhei, EBRI research director, said the WSJ “reported only the most pessimistic set of assumptions from EBRI research and did not cite any of the other 15 combinations of assumptions in the study.”

“The WSJ also chose not to report any of the positive impacts of auto-enrollment 401(k)-type plans in the simulations that were done by EBRI,” according to the statement.

“The headline of the article reports that auto-enrollment is reducing savings for some people. What it failed to mention is that it’s increasing savings for many more — especially the lowest-income 401(k) participants,” VanDerhei said.

The entire text of EBRI’s statement, “What Do You Call a Glass That Is 60−85% Full?” is on EBRI’s blog site.


The Perils of Auto Enrollment

When the Pension Protection Act of 2006 included provisions allowing employeers to automatically enroll new hires in their 401(k) plans, it was hailed as the cure to the low rate of retirement savings among U.S. workers. Well, a new study from the Employee Benefits Research Institute finds that auto-enrollment has had an unexpected result: many of the enrollees are saving less for retirement than they otherwise would.

The study was sponsored by is a summary of recent EBRI research and is published in the Wall Street Journal, which highlights the findings in a story on its front page today.  About 40 percent of new hires at companies with auto enrollment are saving less money than they would if they were left to enroll voluntarily, according to the EBRI, which performed algorithms on data from more than 20 million 401k participants. Experts quoted in the story said part of the problem is that employers are setting contribution rates at 3  percent or less–too low, they said. 

Although many companies with auto enrollment have “automatic escalation” features that bump up employee contributions by 1 percent a year, those generally top out at around 6 percent a year–still too low to provide for a decent level of retirement, say the experts.

To arrive at the findings, EBRI evaluated the contribution rates of people of similar ages and salary levels eligible for plans with auto enrollment compared to those in plans that require workers to join voluntarily.  It ran a computer simulation based on a variety of scenarios to project future savings patterns among auto-enrolled participants.




Fighting over Facebook

Battle lines, apparently, are being drawn.

When I spoke with Rick Marini, founder, CEO and “chief connector” at BranchOut, during the SHRM Convention last week, he made a point of saying that he did not consider LinkedIn a competitor with his start-up, which is designed to leverage Facebook for recruiting.

“LinkedIn is a great company,” he told me. “We see them as complementary. We are not competitive with them.”

Here’s my earlier post on our meeting.

LinkedIn so totally does not agree, writes David Manaster on the ERE site, noting that “LinkedIn has cut off access to its data to both BranchOut and Monster’s BeKnown.” BeKnown is Monster’s Facebook-related venture.

“Until LinkedIn’s move,” Manaster writes, “[BranchOut and BeKnown] had been able to use the API to give those Facebook users a shortcut in creating a resume on their own services, making them easier to set up.

“As this conflict unfolds, we are going to hear a lot from each party about how they are acting in consumer’s best interests, while the other side is trampling their rights. Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric though — all three companies are simply following the money and acting for their own best interests.”

Gee, recruiting vendors sniping and snarling. I know what Bill Kutik would say: Selling Software is Blood Sport.