Trust is vital in the workplace. Employers need to know that their employees will act with honesty and integrity, and employees need to know they'll be paid on time, their job is safe, their well-being is a priority, and their work will be valued. When employees trust their employer, they're happier and more productive. When they don't, an undercurrent of anxiety runs through the business, and people start leaving. Here's how to tell if your employees trust you (and what to do about it if they don't).
Why Is Trust Essential in the Workplace?
Trust is a basic tenet of business and relationships. The old adage that trust is hard to build but easy to lose is true, as it takes a long time to build a trusting relationship at work, but it can be destroyed with a single lie or deception. Sadly, the competitive nature of traditional work environments can make employees prone to distrust their managers, corporate leadership in general, and often their coworkers.
Achieving a culture of trust in the workplace can lead to better employee retention, and it requires incorporating these important elements:
Mistrust in your company can undermine your best efforts to succeed. Here are some reasons why it’s important to build a culture of trust in your organization:
It boosts morale and motivates employees.
When employees trust their employers and are trusted in return, they know their efforts will be seen and rewarded. This encourages engagement, loyalty, and dedication.
Improves efficiency and productivity.
In a trusting environment, workers are given the autonomy they need to get their work done as they choose, so they can maximize their effectiveness and output without waiting for unnecessary authorizations and approvals.
Builds teamwork and improves collaboration.
In a culture of trust and confidence, competition is minimized and people are more comfortable sharing information and working together toward common goals.
Effective Organizational Structures Can Build Trust
When an organization's structure is fair and transparent, employees can see the values and strategies that lead to policies and corporate decisions. Measuring metrics such as Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) can track and demonstrate inclusion in your company culture and ensure your employees perceive equality in your organization. Research shows that a strong DEIB culture improves employee performance and organizational trust.
When Your Employees Show Signs of Mistrust
Sometimes distrust between teams is evident in the constant conflict and the atmosphere of tension prevalent in a workplace, but employers still need to be on guard — no news is not always good news. Here are five reasons your employees might not trust your organization:
Lack of accountability
When people conceal their mistakes and nobody wants to discuss team shortcomings, this can show that people are nervous about the consequences. A trusting work culture allows space to learn from failures, so managers must lead with a willingness to be open about their own errors and demonstrate tolerance when there is a problem. Accountability standards for both employees and managers can go a long way towards a culture of trust and improved company performance.
When your employees don’t question or challenge ideas or initiatives, it can be a sign that they fear the repercussions of conflict and don’t trust the company to address controversy fairly. In this situation, people often address issues privately or complain about them to other colleagues.
All talk, no action
When endless meetings fail to produce an agreement on things that affect everyone and decisions are mostly made in offices with closed doors, this can damage employees’ faith in their managers. A healthy work culture is one in which people know their voices will be heard.
Team members withhold essential information
If colleagues don’t trust each other, they may often try to control information to gain power and protect themselves. If information doesn’t flow freely between team members to help them achieve their tasks, this is a clear red flag that should alert managers to a problematic company culture.
When team members and managers tend to micromanage each other, it’s a pretty good sign that they don’t trust each other to do the work properly. Aside from being irritating, micromanaging lowers employee’s self-confidence, slows productivity, and increases turnover.
How to Show Your Employees You're Trustworthy
Building trust takes work and time. You need to show your employees that the organization is reliable, transparent, and committed to creating a culture of respect and trust. When your employees have trust in the company, turnover is slowed and you’ll retain top team members. Follow these tips to show your trustworthiness to your employees:
Protect your employees’ privacy
If you use time-tracking software or employee management solutions, you should make it clear to your employees that their data is secure. For instance, if you are automating organizational charts with AI and updating staff data, this personable identifying information should be secured. Monitoring logs should also be accessed on a need-to-know basis only.
Pay fairly and on time
One of the first causes of mistrust for employees is when the company delays payment or the wages are not competitive in the market. Manual payroll processes are prone to mistakes. An automated solution can support HR teams by completing repetitive tasks, such as calculating hours and payroll deductions, thereby minimizing errors.
Show concern for their well-being
An employee who feels the company cares for their well-being in the workplace is more likely to trust the company. Implement wellness programs to increase trust levels, engagement, and motivation among employees.
Open the door to collaboration and conversation. Make policies clear and accessible to everyone. Ensure your monitoring systems are transparent and employees can view their data.
Managers and leaders should set an example and acknowledge errors, opening the floor to discussion and improvement. In doing this, you increase your company’s credibility.
Implementing policies that improve a culture of trust in the organization requires acknowledging your employees’ feedback. Use company surveys and ask team members about what the company could be doing better—and then listen to what they say and act on initiatives to address their concerns.
Connect with employees
Team leaders should try to get to know and forge connections with their team members. A company culture that fosters social interaction with team-building activities can increase their trust. Additionally, meeting with people one-on-one can strengthen relationships and demonstrate an authentic commitment to inclusion and rapport.
Increase Your Company’s Trust Using Technology
Leaders need to roll up their sleeves and engage in changing problematic work cultures to promote and drive trust in the organization. However, this trust can take time and effort to achieve. Encouraging transparency, accountability, and fairness is essential to building trust at all levels of the organization.
By protecting your employees’ privacy through utilizing HR technology, automating staff management to prevent payroll issues and feelings of unfairness, and promoting a culture of clear feedback and connection, you are on the right track to building trust in the workplace with your employees.