How to Build Trust in the Workplace
Step into a meeting room of business leaders looking to maximize profit for the company and you will no doubt hear heated discussions on the allocation of funds, profit margins, market penetration, brand identity, time-to-market, and a whole post of ideas trying to maximize the efficiency of the workforce. What you’ll rarely hear is a discussion on one of the most important factors in the success of any business — trust.
Trust in business comes in many forms — the trust that your customers feel in your brand, the trust you as an employer have for your employees and the trust that those employees have in your management.
In particular, research has now increasingly shown that the trust your workforce has in your management skills and decision-making plays a huge factor in how they perform.
Benefits of Trust in the Workplace
To illustrate the importance of trust, we can turn to the responses to surveys performed over the past few years from managers and employees.
75% of surveyed managers and employees responded to a survey that work performance was highly affected by trust. Job performance, organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and employee turnover were all affected by the amount of trust employees had for their managers and employers.
A study of over 10,000 people found that when employees did not trust the organizational leadership of their employer they had only a one in 12 chance of feeling engaged in their work. In comparison, when a feeling of trust has been fostered, engagement rates rise to one in 2. In other words, getting your employees to trust you can result in a 600% increase in employee engagement.
Perhaps the most important statistics are those that show a clear link between high trust companies and higher financial returns. A 2015 study showed that companies that enjoyed high trust from their employees or almost three times more likely to see high performing revenue.
Employees Need To Be Able To Trust Their Employers
People identify trusting their employers as a major factor in their happiness at work. This means they are more likely to stay at the company for longer, be more engaged in their work and produce more in the same period of time, perform higher quality work, and recommend the company to other people.
How are companies generally performing when it comes to trust? Not so good — a 2016 survey of nearly 10,000 full-time workers across seven major countries found that only 46% of respondents had a high level of trust in their employers. 15% had very little or no trust at all in their employer.
How to Avoid Losing Employee Trust
Building trust takes a long time and the commitment to seeing through promises that were made to employees. Many start-ups begin with an energy and passion from the owners that cause them to oversell the potential gains for employees. If initial promises are not met, employee morale will take a dive, and trust in the organization will be lost. It is then very difficult to regain that trust.
Keeping promises realistic not only ensures that you will avoid disappointing your workforce and losing their trust, but it also builds trust as you are demonstrating you know where the company is going, what the opportunities and threats are, and how you’re going to succeed together as a team.
In particular, employees responding to surveys have highlighted some of the most important elements of trust in the workplace that you must pay attention to:
- Trust is lost when employee compensation is felt to be unfair.
- Trust is lost when there are unequal opportunities for promotion or higher wages.
- Trust is lost when there is a high turnover of staff for whatever reason.
- Trust is lost when there is a lack of strong leadership in upper management.
- Trust is lost when employees’ suggestions fall on deaf ears.
To retain trust in the workplace, employees must feel that they are listened to, there is fair compensation for the work performed, there are merit-based opportunities for promotion, and the company’s leadership has a strong vision. Every effort must be made to ensure promises made to employees are realized. With high levels of trust in the organization, the performance of employees will see huge improvements.