Many factors influence the attitude employees have toward their employers. Trust is a major one. If workers don’t feel they can trust a company to act in their best interest, they’ll be more likely to pursue other opportunities. This is very costly in the long run.
Although managers play a role in boosting and sustaining a relationship of trust with their employees, HR professionals can also facilitate an overall culture of trust within the organization. The following are several effective ways to do so:
Encourage Honesty During Company Meetings
At company-wide meetings, it’s not uncommon for managers and executives to provide workers with updates about their company’s health and progress.
Too often, these events are either pep rallies or PR sessions, with executives offering generic assurances that the company is as strong as ever. Of course, they want employees to feel optimistic about the company’s future, and insisting the organization is on track to achieve its annual goals seems like a good idea.
However, this strategy could sabotage the organization in the long run. The positive effects of boosting worker enthusiasm at a single annual event are less powerful than the positive effects of cultivating long-term employee trust. Thus, HR pros should encourage managers and executives to recognize the benefits of being transparent and honest when discussing the company’s health. After all, workers aren’t completely ignorant. At most organizations, rumors trickle throughout each department when the company is struggling. Addressing these rumors honestly helps generate a sense of trust in the organization.
Additionally, lower-level employees may have ideas that can help the company solve its problems. Being honest about company issues and opening the floor for suggestions gives those employees opportunities to offer potential solutions.
Share Key Information
Annual company meetings don’t represent the only chance executives have to be transparent and honest with employees. As an HR pro, encourage them to take this approach a step further by regularly sharing key pieces of information with every member of the organization throughout the year. Instead of sharing a generic company newsletter, send workers financial reports, notes from boards, and similar documents as soon as they are available. Taking this simple step can significantly boost a workforce’s trust in the company.
Act on Suggestions
Employee engagement is closely tied to employee trust. For example, organizations that allow workers to regularly provide suggestions for improvement tend to see higher engagement levels.
However, simply providing a means for employees to offer feedback isn’t enough. You also need to ensure the appropriate parties act on worker suggestions (when doing so makes sense). Thus, HR should take an active role in tracking suggestions and reaching out to managers. Employees will have greater trust in a company when they see their advice is genuinely valued. On the other hand, if you give workers the chance to offer feedback but never act on it, employees will feel as if the company merely took a cynical step to create the illusion of valuing their feedback. This may have a negative impact on trust in the long run.
It’s also a good idea to acknowledge an employee whose feedback yields benefits for the company. Offering recognition—particularly public recognition—is another effective way to boost engagement.
Emphasize Trust as a Value
Individual managers and executives are also responsible for building employee trust.
That’s why HR should coordinate with the company owners to amend the mission statement or statement of values. Specifically, you want to ensure trust is listed as one of the core values the company wishes to embody.
Don’t assume you’ve already achieved this goal if something like “maintaining trustworthy relationships with customers” is among the organization’s guiding priorities. That value does not always equate to maintaining trustworthy relationships within the company itself.
Once you’ve adjusted the statement of values accordingly, find ways to emphasize this particular value in the onboarding process. In the long run, this will help new members of the company (who may later rise to management positions) to know that behaving in a trustworthy manner is important. Additionally, if your company hosts programs to boost internal engagement with the company’s brand, you can use those to tie in the importance of employee trust as well.
By keeping these points in mind and taking steps to re-enforce the company-wide value of trust whenever possible, you’ll reap the benefits of improved engagement and retention.