Employment Relations and Trust

Authored by: Kim Mather

The Routledge Companion to Trust

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138817593
eBook ISBN: 9781315745572
Adobe ISBN:


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The concept of trust in employment relations is underpinned by a persistent concern with the ‘problem’ of low productivity that besets the UK economy (ACAS, 2015). One ‘solution’ is argued to rest on high-performance, high-trust workplace relations that realize employees’ full potential (CIPD, 2013). There are some insightful and useful contributions about both the nature of, and the potential impact of high performance work (HPW) regimes with regard to trust as debated by Searle earlier in this text. At the same time, the UK labour market is characterized by low-autonomy work and increased reliance on ‘flexible’, zero-hours contracts and other casualized forms of employment (Rubery, 2015; Adams & Deakin, 2014; TUC, 2014; Van Wanrooy et al., 2013). These labour market developments hardly signify employers’ commitment to high-trust relations between employers and employed. As the CIPD itself admits, ‘job insecurity is associated with distrust’ (CIPD, 2013:11). Wider empirical evidence of UK developments paints a bleak picture of job insecurity and work intensification for those in work and of generally low-trust workplace relations (Worrall et al., 2016). Several detailed studies also highlight work intensification and work pressure trends that are particularly apparent across the public sector: in the civil service (French, 2014); among prison governors (French, 2015); in the NHS (Mather, 2014); in further education (Mather & Seifert, 2014) and in schools (Carter & Stevenson, 2012). Perhaps unsurprisingly then, there is a reported ‘crisis of trust … that cuts across politics and public and private sector organisations’ (Royles, 2010:239).

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