17. April 2024

Over one quarter of employees do not trust their CEO to be honest and transparent

Three people in a work session with a laptop showing graphs and charts.
  • Trust in leadership damaged by lack of transparency, as over a third of UK employees don’t believe leadership in their organisation actually listens to and acts on feedback

  • 59% believe that their organisation should be more open and transparent about pay and rewards, while 61% feel this would improve their perception of their organisation

London, 17 April 2024: New research finds that over one quarter (26%) of employees in the UK do not trust their CEO to be open and honest, while 24% do not trust their senior leadership to do the same. Personio, Europe’s leading HR software company for small and mid-sized businesses, surveyed 2,000 employees in the UK, finding that transparency and employer-employee communication are pivotal to a positive employee experience and trust in the workplace.  

Employees do not feel listened to

The research finds that feeling unheard by leadership could be fuelling employees’ distrust. Over a quarter (28%) of employees surveyed say that they are not given a chance to share feedback to leadership on their experiences. Meanwhile, less than half (46%) of employees feel that leadership in their organisation actually listens and acts on any feedback when given from staff.

Pete Cooper, Director of People Partners & Analytics at Personio, comments: “Trust in leadership is fundamental to creating a culture where people feel invested in a company’s growth and success - and listening to employees is key to building this trust. Providing opportunities for employees to give regular feedback, for example through surveys and pulse polls, is an important way to engage employees. But it needs to be a two way conversation, and leadership needs to communicate with employees to show that feedback is being listened to and taken seriously.”

More reward and progression transparency could improve the employee experience

In a difficult economy, reward and progression transparency has become more of a focus for employees. 61% do not feel that their current level of pay and remuneration has kept pace with inflation and the cost of living, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that over half (56%) of employees are more likely to discuss their pay with colleagues because of these factors.

The data suggests that transparency around pay and other factors, including rewards and promotions, could drive improved performance. 63% of employees say that they would be more motivated to work for a promotion if they had more clarity on their potential pay and remuneration. Meanwhile, a third (33%) would be motivated to work harder or be more productive by knowing they have the opportunity for a promotion, pay rise or bonus within the next year. Beyond the next 12 months, over a quarter (26%) report that a clear timescale or plan for a promotion or pay rise would incentivise them to do the same. Beyond motivation, the data shows that there is a direct correlation between high levels of transparency in an organisation and employee engagement. The 5% of employees that perceive their organisation to be ‘very transparent’ across several factors (pay at all levels, the results of employee surveys, training budgets and opportunities, and non-salary rewards and compensation)  are most likely to report high satisfaction, performance, and, crucially, loyalty compared to other employees surveyed. 91% of these employees report high productivity and motivation at work.

Pete Cooper continued: “With the cost of living putting immense pressure on people’s finances, it’s important for businesses to recognise the influence that pay, and transparency around pay, will be having on employee job satisfaction and the overall employee experience. While it’s not always practical to raise pay, implementing regular performance reviews, giving timelines for progression, and ensuring people understand their total rewards package beyond their base salary, will help to provide employees with reassurance and motivation. Ultimately this will also build trust and improve overall employee engagement.”

Personio recently launched two new tools as part of their all-in-one HR software solution - Personio Compensation Management and Personio Surveys - to help SMEs improve trust and transparency within their organization. Personio Compensation Management makes compensation reviews easier, fairer and faster, all while keeping sensitive salary data safe. Personio Surveys offers SMEs a streamlined and confidential way to quickly conduct insightful employee surveys, simplifying analysis for HR teams and managers to ensure targeted, effective decision-making.

Compensation Management

Our research shows that increased transparency around areas including pay improves employees’ perception of - and trust in - an organization, which is integral to a high performing culture. So, getting compensation right is business critical. Personio Compensation Management makes the entire compensation process easier, fairer and faster, helping organizations combat complexity and remove the risk of errors and bias by keeping all necessary information in one place, integrated within the Personio platform. With Compensation Management, HR teams can centralize compensation data, simplify access control and streamline approvals, while making data-driven compensation decisions with performance insights, salary bands and manager guidelines to free up valuable time. 


SMEs often struggle to identify the key factors that drive employee engagement—the vital indicators that enable an organization to respond effectively and maintain a happy and productive workforce. As a result, HR teams are often tasked with managing tedious survey processes which can hinder their ability to provide necessary insights for organizational growth. Personio Surveys offers a unique, confidential and efficient approach to employee engagement surveys, significantly reducing the time HR spends analyzing data. The tool also provides granular control over data visibility, allowing HR professionals and managers to securely and effectively share survey results with appropriate individuals. With efficiency, integration and confidentiality at its core, Personio Surveys empowers HR and managers to provide insights quickly, enabling swift and informed decision-making.

Personio Compensation Management and Personio Surveys are now both available to customers.

Press enquiries:

Personio SE & Co. KG Matthew Tubbs Communications Lead E-Mail: press@personio.de 

UK & Ireland - Firstlight Group Ellie Rust / Alex McKie Tel: + 44 (0)7860650103 / +44(0)7943457798 E-Mail: personioteam@firstlightgroup.io

About the research:

Survey fieldwork was undertaken on behalf of Personio by Censuswide, with fieldwork conducted between 20th and 26th October 2023. The survey sample was 2,009 UK workers aged 16 and over, including 1,068 who work at SMEs (companies with under 250 employees). Excluding sole traders.

About Personio

Personio is the People Operating System for small and medium-sized organizations with 10 to 2,000 employees. Based in Munich, London, Madrid, Dublin, Berlin, Barcelona, New York and Amsterdam, Personio’s mission is to make HR processes as efficient and effective as possible so HR can focus on what matters most: people. Personio does that by offering an all-in-one HR software that includes human resources management, recruiting, talent management and payroll. With People Workflow Automation, Personio helps more than 10,000 customers across Europe to remove delays and realize opportunities. For further information, visit www.personio.com