Building a culture of trust in the workplace is a vital component of a successful company. It’s also a major fumble trigger for company executives, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic forced remote work to become the corporate norm.
Under these new conditions, panicked employers increased their usage of monitoring software and rushed to get people back in the office despite the pandemic. Managers feared their employees were goofing off on the clock and employees felt they were being micro-managed. Building trust in the workplace is hard to do under these conditions.
And trust is certainly faltering at work. The Edelman Trust Barometer has been documenting a steady decline in people’s trust in societal institutions and those in power. In 2016, they found that 1 in 3 employees don’t trust their employer.
A workplace built on foundations of trust and respect is more productive and generates more revenue than one with little trust. Plus, employees who feel they can trust their employers are absent less often and have lower turnover rates.
Okay, so trust is vital. How do you build a culture of trust in the workplace? Trust is hard-won and easily lost, so it’s important to get right on the first try. Here, we offer a few strategies to build trust in the workplace and improve employee engagement.
Build Trust by Providing Employees Security
Let’s pretend you have to complete a difficult obstacle course. Which would be easier: completing the course in tennis shoes or on stilts?
It’s a silly thought exercise, we know, but it illustrates an important truth. People need to feel secure to perform at their best. Employees will simply never trust employers when they don’t feel safe financially, psychologically, or even physically. If you want to build trust with your employees, you have to make sure they feel safe and secure at work. Employees matter and they need to be treated as such.
“Security” can come in many different forms. Sometimes, something as simple as a reliable daily routine can be a good starting point for building trust in the workplace. The value of a daily routine is the core of Fabulous’s philosophy. Routines can help things feel “normal” even amidst chaotic times.
Remember Your ABCs (“Always Be Communicating”)
Especially in remote and hybrid working situations, clear and effective communication is a defining factor of a company’s success. If people can’t communicate effectively with one another, it’s only a matter of time before everything falls apart. Poor communication can also erode trust in an instant, whereas clear and transparent communication is the foundation of rock-solid trust in an employer or institution.
Workers can’t do their best work if they don’t know what’s expected of them. They’ll never improve if they’re not getting regular feedback. And they won’t know how valuable they are unless their managers and colleagues tell them as much.
But don’t forget: Communication is a two-way street. Your employees need to be able to make their voices heard and have their needs met, too. They need to be able to trust that you’ll be empathetic and responsive. One way to do this is by regularly checking in on employees to get a sense of how they’re feeling and where they’re struggling. Fabulous, for example, helps companies keep track of employee wellness statistics so they can better understand how employees are feeling at any given moment.
Build Trust by Building Ample Opportunities for Small Talk
You could argue that one of the most productive rooms in an office is the break room! When employees have time and space to interact with their colleagues in a non-work context, it strengthens their bond and, you guessed it, builds that much-needed trust. After all, you can’t trust people if you don’t know them.
Of course, spontaneous small talk is a lot easier in a physical office. But that doesn’t mean a fully remote team is out of luck (fun fact: Did you know Fabulous is fully remote?). Virtual parties, game nights, and Live Challenges from the Fabulous app are just a few ways to make social space for your remote or hybrid employees. It also makes space for management to interact with their employees outside of the workplace hierarchy. That kind of socializing is where trust grows.
Be Somebody Employees Can Trust
No matter what you do while building a culture of trust in your workplace, at the end of the day, it all comes down to who you are and how you behave at work. Upper management, in particular, has an obligation to model the trustworthy behavior they want to see from others. Spread kindness wherever you go. Check in on employees and listen to them when they need you. Be transparent about your goals, accomplishments, and struggles. And always reach out to new employees to help them settle in and feel welcome.
Trust and employee engagement go hand in hand. If you want your employees to be engaged in their work, they have to be able to trust their workplace and the people within it. Proactively extending that trust first is the easiest way to start the trust-building process that employees need to thrive.
How do you build trust at work? Share your suggestions with us here or on social media!