How to build trust in the workplace

While trust in government and media is declining, trust in business is on the rise. According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, which covers 28 countries, business is increasingly seen as a unifying force in society. So how can organizations build on this internally and externally?

Trust in organizations

Trust is a vital component of any successful workplace. And public trust is an increasingly important component of any successful business. Yet it’s often taken for granted.

In this article, we’ll look at the many benefits of trust in the workplace, including increased collaboration, communication, innovation and staff and customer retention. And we’ll discuss practical ways for leaders and managers to establish trust as a core value in the workplace.

The importance of trust in the workplace

The importance of trust in the workplace

Companies everywhere are struggling to strike the right balance between empowering their employees, prioritizing employee wellbeing and maintaining high engagement. But what if they’re missing one key component?

According to research by Harvard Business Review (HBR), employees in high-trust companies are 76% more engaged at work than those in a low-trust work environment. What’s more, those same employees also reported feeling 74% less stressed and were 40% less likely to experience burnout.

So, what exactly is ‘trust’ in the workplace?

Trust in the workplace refers to the belief or confidence that employees have in the company they work for. It’s the assurance that their employer will act in their best interests and fulfill its commitments to them. When employees trust their employer, they’re more likely to have a positive attitude towards their work and the company, and are also more likely to feel motivated, engaged and committed to their jobs.

Some specific aspects of trust and empowerment in the workplace include:

  • Trust in leadership: When employees have confidence in the decision-making abilities of their leaders and believe that their leaders have the best interests of the organization and its employees at heart.

  • Trust in communication: The belief that employees have in the transparency and openness of the company's communication. If employees believe that the company is honest and open in its communication, they’re more likely to trust their employer. Communications from employers are considered the most believable of any source, according to the Edelman report, so it’s up to organizations to keep this momentum going.

  • Trust in job security: The assurance that employees have that their jobs are secure and that they won’t be laid off without just cause.

  • Trust in the company's values: When employees feel that their company's values and ethics align with their own, and that the company is committed to acting in an ethical and socially responsible way. Values also have a big impact on customer and investor retention. 60% of people choose a place to work based on their values and beliefs, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. And 88% of institutional investors scrutinize ESG as much as finances and operations.

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The benefits of building trust in the workplace

The benefits of building trust in the workplace

Trust is essential in the workplace as it improves employee and employer communication, collaboration and respect. When employees trust each other and their superiors, they feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, leading to better decision-making and problem-solving. Trust also fosters a positive work culture, where people feel valued and respected, leading to increased job satisfaction, motivation, and ultimately, higher levels of productivity and success for the company.

Here are some the greatest benefits of trust in the workplace:

Building morale

When employees feel trusted and supported, they’re more likely to have a positive attitude and a sense of pride in their work. This can lead to higher morale throughout the organization, which can have a ripple effect on productivity and performance. Indeed, employees and high-trust companies are reported to have 106% more energy at work, than those in a low-trust work environment.

Positive employee relationships

Trust is a key factor in building strong and positive relationships between employees. When there’s a high level of trust among team members, they’re more likely to work collaboratively, communicate effectively and support one another.

Increased engagement

Engaged employees are more committed to their jobs, more focused on their tasks, and more likely to go above and beyond what’s expected of them. Improved employee engagement can in turn lead to higher productivity, with employees in high-trust companies being 50% more productive than those in low-trust companies.

Promotes innovation

Trust can also play a vital role in fostering innovation and creativity. When team members trust each other, they’re more likely to share ideas and take risks. This creates an environment where new solutions can be developed and innovation can thrive, helping the organization stay fresh and ahead of the competition.

Lower staff turnover

When employees feel trusted and valued, they’re more likely to stay with the organization for the long-term. This can reduce turnover rates, which can be costly and disruptive to an organization's productivity and morale. Data from HBR suggests that turnover rates in high-trust organizations are 50% lower than those in low-trust organizations.

How to build a trusting relationship in a team

How to build a trusting relationship in a team

Building trust with employees won’t happen overnight. As a leader or manager, creating a high-trust culture will require intentional effort and a willingness to be vulnerable and transparent with your employees.

Here are some key strategies to help you start building trust in the workplace and getting the most out of your teams:

Encourage communication

Encouraging open and honest communication among team members is crucial for building trust in the workplace. As a manager, you should establish a safe and supportive environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns. Make sure to actively listen to your team members and respond in a non-judgmental way. Regularly check in with your team members and ask for feedback to ensure that everyone's voice is heard.

Be transparent

Transparency is critical for building trust in the workplace. As a manager, you should be honest and open with your team members about the company's goals, challenges, and decision-making processes. This will help foster a culture of trust and transparency within the team. When something goes wrong, take responsibility and openly discuss how the situation can be improved.

Create a positive work environment

Creating a positive work environment can significantly impact the team's morale and, in turn, build trust among team members. You can foster a positive environment by showing appreciation for your team members' hard work, providing opportunities for professional growth and acknowledging their accomplishments. And you can encourage a healthy work-life balance by offering flexible working arrangements and making sure workload is distributed evenly.

Regular team-building activities

Team-building activities can help to strengthen the bond between team members and promote trust. Activities can range from small team lunches to more elaborate outings. Encourage your team to participate in team-building activities and make sure that they’re fun and inclusive.

Value individuals

As a manager, it's crucial to value each team member's unique strengths and contributions. This means acknowledging their efforts, providing constructive feedback and recognizing their accomplishments. By doing this, you can promote a culture of appreciation and respect, which can help to build trust within the team.

Support your staff

Supporting your staff means providing the resources they need to succeed, both professionally and personally. This includes providing opportunities for training and development, providing a supportive work environment and recognizing their achievements. When your team members feel supported, they’re more likely to trust managers, leaders and the organization itself.

Lead by example

As a manager or leader, you should model the behaviors you expect from your team. This means being accountable, transparent and communicative. If you want your team to be honest, transparent and supportive of each other, then you need to show these behaviors yourself. By leading by example, you can inspire your team to follow your lead and build a culture of trust and loyalty in the workplace.

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