Trust across all major areas of society, from the government, through to media and business has plummeted in recent years. For the business sector specifically, the annual trust barometer survey by PR firm Edelman revealed that 50% of people agree the pace of change in business and industry is too fast. This has led to 60% worrying that they will lose their jobs due to lack of training or skills. With such uncertainty across society, an effective employee experience strategy is more important than ever.
Why is trust important for my business?
A high level of trust between managers and employees defines the best workplaces and drives overall company performance and revenue.
How can I achieve this through employee engagement?
To rebuild trust and restore faith, business leaders must place themselves outside of their traditional roles and work toward a more integrated operating model that puts people — and the addressing of their fears — at the centre of everything the company does.
This model also needs to consider the pace of the workplace by understanding that employee happiness is not by chance . Encouragement from leaders to create a healthy work-life balance culture is part of a successful employee engagement strategy. Companies who pay attention to this often have an operating profit margin three times higher than those with lower engagement levels.
People need to feel that what they are doing is making a difference, and that you trust them to be part of the wider picture.
Southwest Airlines is an excellent example of a company who has achieved great results through connecting their people with what’s important to the organisation. They build up a sense of trust by making their employees see that they have a purpose beyond just ‘doing a job’ and that they are a vital and important part of the company and its ethos and strategy.
- Professional development
It pays to invest in your workforce, to understand employee needs and to engage them in your vision. But this cannot be a one size fits all approach. Employees at different companies care about different things, and need to feel individually valued.
- Hire for trust
If you start with good people , hired for more than just their technical skills and knowledge but how they will fit in with your business, you will quickly build a sense of trust across your organisation.
From innovative interview tactics to involving your team in the decisions, using smarter hiring practises can result in hiring honest, accountable team members who create and sustain a culture in which people can count on one another.
- Be transparent
Unsurprisingly, trust is eroded when we believe others are withholding information.
In a survey of 1,400 office workers, published by Wrike in 2015, employees rated changing priorities and moving deadlines as top workplace stressors. Everyone changes their mind sometimes, but when leaders frequently do not follow through on their commitments, employees feel the strain and lose trust.
On another level, creating a culture of trust between management and your employees means rejecting micromanaging and letting your decisions be questioned. This provides everyone with a level of comfort during times of rapid change and growth.
- Be caring
Lack of trust in leadership might really come down to lack of empathy. Empathetic leaders are emotionally intelligent and consider the needs of their team, act with the best intentions and care about the impact their actions have on others and the company. Empathy starts with listening and understanding. Listen to employee concerns and complaints, and try to understand where they are coming from. Before making decisions, consider the needs of employees — is it really in their best interest?
Empathy also allows leaders to understand when employees need time off, need extra help and resources to finish a project or need their schedule rearranged. Consider the needs of employees, respect their lives outside of work and show empathy and understanding to build better, trusting relationships.
“When trust goes down (in a relationship, on a team, in an organization, or with a partner or customer), speed goes down and cost goes up.… The inverse is equally true: When trust goes up, cost goes down, and speed goes up.” Stephen M. R. Covey , The Speed of Trust