Building trust in the workplace is a fundamental part of conducting business and remaining competitive. But without embracing transparency in our workplace communications, we risk losing employee trust. Whether it’s the organization, executive leadership, or our people managers, there are many people who have the power to make or break trust at your company.
In this blog, we’ll share a step-by-step checklist to work on improving trust for your business.
Why is Trust in the Workplace Important?
Trust is essential for business success for many reasons. First, is that trust enhances productivity by creating a sense of security and psychological safety among employees. When employees feel like they can be themselves at work and are trusted to get their jobs done, they will be more motivated.
Trust is also foundational for strong teamwork. When employees trust one another, they are better at collaboration and bringing innovative ideas forward.
Naturally, high-levels of trust are closely tied to employee engagement and, therefore, influences retention.
But building and nurturing trust is an ongoing journey. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll explore practical strategies to help you cultivate trust within your workplace.
What Are the 3 Fundamental Elements of Trust?
The Harvard Business Review breaks trust into three core elements: authenticity, logic, and empathy.
They consider these the three fundamental components of trust because all are required to evoke that feeling of trusting someone. First, you have to believe that person (or company) is being authentic. Then, you have to see their judgments as sound and perceive them as having some level of competence. And last, you have to feel like they actually care about you and have empathy for you.
Businesses also have to be their authentic selves, back up their choices with results, and show their employees they matter if they hope to build trust.
What Breaks Trust in the Workplace?
Even once trust is earned, it can be easy to lose it. Just picture the times where someone you’ve known broke your trust. What did they do?
Did they lie or withhold the truth from you?
Did their words and actions contradict each other?
Do they allow for negative behavior (like gossiping and insensitivity) to go unchecked?
Well, organizations can be guilty of this kind of behavior too. Values and culture are truly led from the top-down. And the example business leaders set has a huge impact on whether or not their employees trust, not just them, but the entire company.
4 Steps to Build Trust in the Workplace
So, how do you build trust in the workplace? These steps walk you through exactly how to go from a low trust to high-trust organization.
1. Find out where you currently stand.
Before you can build workplace trust, you have to figure out your baseline. Do employees trust your organization? Their managers?
And like most things, it’s not unilateral. Certain parts of your organization might be more or less trusting than others, right? It’s important to hone in on where you’re struggling with trust and what the culprits might be.
To do that, we recommend starting with an employee survey to assess trust. And, if needed, follow up with focus groups to get more qualitative data.
2. Start with your leadership team.
A lack of workplace trust isn’t an employee issue. It’s them responding to the culture and internal communication you’re sending. So, you have to start with your leadership team who will lead the change.
They should start by addressing the survey results and share their commitment to making improvements. From there, they have to live by example by being honest and transparent consistently.
Remember that building trust is going to take time, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate shifts.
3. Make your internal communications more transparent.
Once your leadership team has committed to building trust by changing their approach to communication, you have to back it up with changing your approach in all your internal communications. Use your internal comms channels to reinforce your commitment to transparency and honesty.
4. Make real change.
The truth is, distrust isn’t only stemming from what you choose to communicate (or not communicate). It’s also rooted in our systems, practices, and policies.
Do employees feel like you don’t trust them because of certain policies?
Are employees given credit for their ideas and contributions?
Do you promise certain benefits or perks only to not follow through?
Whatever it is, look closely at how you conduct business and treat your employees and then make some real changes. This is going to be how you back up everything you say to your people. And, ultimately, trust is built when what we say and do are in sync.
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