Now that we’re into 2023, business leaders are focusing on driving digital and financial growth. With these strategies top of mind, leaders often overlook an essential piece of success: trust. With many conversations happening around the employee/employer dynamic, Visier surveyed 1,000 full-time U.S. employees and found that 90% surveyed say they trust their employers. Visier asked that 90% why they trust their employers. The top reasons they gave were:
- They generally tell me the truth: 65%
- They’re transparent about company policies and practices: 52%
- TIED: They don’t allow toxic behavior and They pay fair market rates: 39%
- They encourage employees to speak up: 38%
But, according to the survey, that trust could be lost quickly. Things like level of truthfulness, transparency and tolerance for toxic behavior can sway that trust. Respondents were closely divided on whether they strongly agree (47%) or only somewhat agree (43%), indicating there’s room for improvement to move the needle on employee trust levels. On the flip side, Visier also asked distrustful employees to list some of the reasons why they do not trust their companies. The top reasons were:
- They allow toxic behavior to go unchecked: 45%
- They don’t tell the truth: 43%
- They’re not transparent about company policies and practices: 43%
- They don’t follow through on employee feedback: 35%
- They overwork me and don’t make efforts to correct the situation: 32%
According to Workhuman’s Human Workplace Index, a monthly survey of 1,000 U.S. full-time workers, employees cited the top situations that compromised their trust:
- Seeing someone else receive credit for their work (36.60%)
- Working with colleagues they clash with (33.90%)
- Overhearing negative comments about a colleague (33.20%)
- Being put on the spot in a meeting (24.60%)
While these uncomfortable situations may seem inevitable, there are strategies to manage them professionally. Just knowing you’re not alone can be a huge comfort on an individual level. On a company scale, effective management and a culture of open, empathetic communication can make these moments far less uncomfortable, reducing fear of embarrassment or consequence.
Respondents in the Visier study said that even if there were a scandal or controversy, it can present opportunities for the company to improve trust. After the scandal or controversy, 42% of employees said, “the way my company reacted improved my trust.” The other 58% of employees said the scandal either diminished trust (14%) or didn’t affect their trust in their employer (44%).
A Winning Formula For Trust
New data from Deloitte show that the importance of trust is at an all-time high, and the inclination to trust is at an all-time low. Trusted companies outperform their peers by up to 400%, directly correlating with the bottom line. Customers who trust a brand are 88% more likely to buy again. And 79% of employees who trust their employers are more motivated to work and less likely to leave.
Deloitte found that the winning formula to build trust is Honesty + Transparency. On the flip side, they found that a losing formula is Toxicity + Lying. Deloitte’s research quantifies four factors of trust, including humanity, transparency, capability and reliability. When workers believe a company is high in each of these factors, it correlates with trusting actions.
- Humanity: Employees are 1.5 times more likely to defend their employer after someone’s criticism.
- Transparency: Employees are 1.5 times more likely to positively review their employer on a public website.
- Capability: Employees are 33% less likely to look for another job.
- Reliability: Employees are 1.5 times more likely to recommend their employer to a friend, family member or colleague.
Building A Culture Of Trust In The Organization
It’s obvious from the research that when companies prioritize creating a culture of trust, they have more engaged and productive workers who stick around for longer periods of time. So how can leaders build trust? The people I spoke to were unanimous that an employee-first workplace is a win-win for people and profits.
Yiannis Gavrielides, co-founder and CEO of COVVE, stresses the importance of personal relationships in the current volatile job market. “Developing meaningful professional relationships matters more than ever: collaborating effectively with colleagues, building trust with clients, negotiating with suppliers and aligning with shareholders are the skills that will differentiate the future professionals,” Gavrielides points out. He also underscores the importance of employees and employers keeping in touch with one another. “Dedicate time every day to reach out to people. In a world where digital interactions are taking over, remember the importance of in-person meetings. Body language and eye contact matter greatly, especially in negotiations and other occasions where being present can be more impactful,” he says, adding, “Actively listen to people’s opinions, understand their priorities, offer to help and connect them with people that can help. Every successful connection reaffirms your relationship with both people and encourages them to reciprocate, introducing you to new people. This creates a powerful loop that allows you to grow and strengthen your network.”
Andrea Meyer, director of benefits at Worksmart Systems agrees with Gavrielides that companies must listen to employees’ needs if they want to build trust and belonging in their organizations. “Balancing those requests with employer needs is essential, but can be tricky,” she adds. “The HR department can help by liaising between upper management and employees to create guidelines that satisfy both parties. For many organizations, this compromise may lead to a hybrid work environment, allowing employees to spend a few days at home and a few days in the office. Hybrid workplaces permit employees to determine how much time they spend in a traditional office setting. These policies promote a better sense of belonging among fully remote and fully in-person employees by allowing freedom.”
Jonathan Legge, co-founder and CEO of &Open also believes people are a company’s greatest asset, and companies build trust when they emotionally invest in their employees. “When businesses invest in their employees through acts of appreciation, words of encouragement or making investments in their success, they build a culture where people take pride in their work and feel a sense of engagement and accountability,” Legge explains. “When companies fail to do that, employees will simply check-out. This is especially true since the pandemic when nearly every company is grappling with fully remote or hybrid work. Employee investment is key to creating a culture where team members feel engaged and excited about the company and the work they’re doing.”