When trust is eroded within an organization, communication, teamwork, and performance all suffer. Many companies are focusing on ways to build trust with their employees, fostering greater productivity and higher employee retention in the process.
So, what steps can you take to build a culture of trust in your organization?
1. Make a connection
Create a personal connection by getting to know your colleagues. This is something you can do informally over team lunches or team building events. Another method is to offer to occasionally share some of their workload to signal that you’re all in this together.
2. Establish Core Values
A critical step in creating a trusting relationship with employees is to agree on a set of core values for the organisation. These set the tone of the company and drive behaviors. As important as setting core values, is to ensure that these values are demonstrated and rewarded in everyday workflows. A good practice is to embed them in the performance management of employees.
Colleagues should be encouraged to recognise and appreciate the characteristics they have in common, as well as the qualities that make them unique and different. These values can also be demonstrated through corporate social responsibility and the ways in which the organisation engages with the community, as well as in formal and informal mechanisms that encourage peer support.
3. Maintain transparency and honesty
Often it is the HR team that is at the heart of employee communications. The more openly management communicates, the more trust employees will have. It’s important that organisations don’t create voids in communication, which encourage a destructive rumour mill culture and builds mistrust. Whilst there are some pieces of information that should not be available to all, such as personal employee data, there is far more that can be shared. Transparency of information on financial results, company progress against targets, and planned initiatives, all help to maintain trust and enable employees to contribute more to the growth of the organisation, and support innovation.
Transparency also includes communicating bad, as well as good news. Employees are more resilient when they understand what is happening than when they are forced to work in a void.
Another essential element of transparency is making sure that employees know what data is held about them, and in giving them quick and simple access to company policies and procedures. To achieve this, it is important to automate record keeping and employee transactions, preferably in an integrated HR management system (HRMS).
4. Give credit where it is due
Employees are motivated when recognised for the work that they do. Reinforcing good work and positive behaviour encourages everyone to work harder and smarter. Another major benefit is that trust gets built by seeing fairness and equality in the way that people are recognised. There’s nothing worse that a manager taking credit for the work of their team, and this is guaranteed to quickly lose employee trust.
It’s also important to take the responsibility for when things don’t go well due to management decisions or actions. It’s too easy to blame employees for poor customer service, for example, when the issue may be that they are not empowered by the company to be able to provide the level of service required.
5. Encourage active participation
A culture where everyone feels able to express their thoughts and ideas builds trust. Establishing innovation or idea schemes, where individuals can be recognised for their contributions is a positive step to take. For this to happen there must be a sense of equality and fairness, as well as a positive communication culture. This approach also encourages team spirit and enables people of varying skill levels to show the value that they bring to the organisation.
6. Don’t enable favouritism
Make sure that you don’t encourage favouritism in the workplace. It’s easy to become more connected with employees who are working hard and achieving more than other colleagues, or with those who share background or interests. But it’s important that this does not lead to treating them more favourably in the context of work. This can be particularly destructive when giving preference to candidates in recruitment or in promotions. You need to not only be fair, but be seen to be fair.
7. Ensure that you know what you are doing
No-one expects a manager to know everything about their job, but it is important that you maintain your skills and knowledge if you are to earn employees’ trust. If you don’t know what your team members do, then spend some time finding out. When employees know that you understand their roles and the challenges they face, they are more likely to trust your decision-making and directions.
Equally important is to not pretend to know things that you don’t. Experienced employees can quickly identify when you are bluffing. It is far healthier to create an environment where you respect the knowledge and skills of your team members and ask for their advice and ideas when needed. Asking questions demonstrates your interest as well as your appreciation of their contribution, and at the same time, earns you their trust.
8. Encourage respect in the workplace
If you have established and delivered against your core values, respect should be an integral part of your culture. It’s important that you keep a focus on respect in all aspects of the workplace. One of the key elements is to ensure that gossiping and bad talk about others is discouraged and denounced. Enabling gossip and bad talk to flourish is a sure way to destroy trust across the organisation. Respect for colleagues and customers is a cornerstone of a healthy working environment and drives other essential behaviours such as teamwork and innovation, as well as productivity.
In summary, building trust with employees takes time and requires consistent effort. It means focusing on communications and internal processes, ensuring fairness and transparency in every interaction. For all the challenges this may present, having the trust of your workforce drives productivity, ensures a healthy working environment, and leads to improved employee retention.
HRBluSky aims to be a global leader in providing a better experience for employees and employers. Enabling you to manage your workforce from one central system, HRBluSky is a simple and user-friendly HRMS, giving your employees transparency and accessibility anytime, anywhere via their mobile devices.