A wise person once said, “Friendship is built on respect and trust.” Turns out, it’s not just friendship; Today’s workplaces stand to benefit from exercising mutual respect and trustworthiness as well. A PWC survey found that among the CEOs asked, over half (58 percent) said a lack of trust in business would harm their company’s growth.
With company culture often taking the top spot as an essential part of a company’s success, Trust within the workplace is more important than ever. Experts identified the correlation between a high-trust company and fewer employee sick days (13 percent fewer), for instance. Employee engagement is 76 percent higher in high-trust companies, and employee turnover rates are 50 percent lower.
In these uncertain times, when many companies rely on technology to connect with employees, how can organizations build or maintain a trusting workplace? At Simplus, we use four strategies to ensure our employees feel valued, respected, supported, and safe. Our approach is simple but effective: two-way communication, encouragement, and growth.
As a company that launched with a remote work model almost seven years ago, overcommunicating is standard practice at Simplus. When management is trying to navigate not only a global-based workforce but also one that works remotely, exercising thoughtful and thorough communication is one of the most dependable approaches to ensure your messaging is delivered clearly and received accurately, particularly during uncertain economic times.
“The point of overcommunicating is to ensure that employees know what is happening and why, even if they haven’t fully bought into the change itself,” explained business writer Kash Mathur. “But there has to be a balance between communication and actually doing the work. People will put real trust in the plan when they see the wins coming from putting the change into action.”
For instance, when Ryan Westwood, CEO at Simplus, introduces new strategies or shares updates on company status, he repeats important points over and over again. Ryan believes that repeating something seven times is ideal to be sure the content—and the spirit that was intended during the delivery—is clear. But along with sharing information, it’s equally important to listen.
2. Welcome feedback
For communication to work, it has to operate on a two-way street. “Trust is never a line item on the balance sheet, but it is the most important thing a company has. We build trust first and foremost with our employees. We understand our values, we walk the talk,” said Mark Fields, CEO at Ford Motor Company. And that means standing upright for an employee’s critical concerns as well as complements.
“Leading doesn’t mean adding a slide to the presentation for the annual meeting to let folks know you’re pro-feedback,” said author and Forbes contributor Tamra Chandler. “[S]adly people in higher positions often miss out on the value feedback can provide them, both because they fail to ask, and because many people fear offering. Be the first in your organization to ask for feedback consistently. Openly share with others what you’re up to, invite them to share their perspectives, and listen to the feedback you receive.” This means welcoming even the negative feedback as it’s an opportunity to open our eyes to perspectives we may have otherwise missed.
We have different meetings at Simplus, ranging from mandatory company-wide meetings to the more casual and intimate locker room meeting with a smaller attendee list. Regardless of the audience, the facilitator, who is often a member of the executive team, asks for feedback. And it’s not uncommon for them to respond to the occasionally quiet room by calling out people by name to share their thoughts.
3. Public recognition
Everyone wants to be valued. Yet a Global study revealed that 79 percent of people who quit their jobs cite ‘lack of appreciation’ as their reason for leaving. “The neuroscience shows that recognition has the largest effect on trust when it occurs immediately after a goal has been met, when it comes from peers, and when it’s tangible, unexpected, personal, and public,” said Paul J. Zak, who studied the neuroscience of trust.
Applications like Slack, Google Hangouts, email, and other group communication tools offer an ideal platform to publicly acknowledge the hard work of a team or coworker. “Public recognition not only uses the power of the crowd to celebrate successes, but also inspires others to aim for excellence. And it gives top performers a forum for sharing best practices, so others can learn from them,” Zak said.
To ensure management doesn’t overlook employee’s achievements, set aside time in every meeting to recognize team members. At Simplus, at least 50 percent of a meeting’s itinerary is dedicated to celebrating a job well done and rewarding individual performance. Every meeting starts with a review of our people and their accomplishments before evaluating company performance metrics. We’ve built trust in our company by keeping our recognition pool open to the entire global company and recognizing the victories in every region and department of Simplus.
4. Encourage industry skills not just company-specific skills
Think of what your company stands to gain from having a trusting workplace that encourages employees to set goals to develop general skills that not only benefit the company but enable that employee to achieve success wherever the opportunity presents itself. Studies show that employees working at high-trust companies experience 74 percent less stress, feel more satisfaction in the direction of their professional lives, and have 50 percent higher productivity.
According to a 2020 Project Management Report on Leadership and Training in the Workplace, organized, formal training not only helps an employee gain a better understanding of their work responsibilities, but it also builds confidence. “This confidence will enhance their overall performance and this can only benefit the company. Employees who are competent and on top of changing industry standards help your company hold a position as a leader and strong competitor within the industry,” the report said.
Institutionalizing a desire for skills certifications and leadership training is part of our company’s narrative. But in many companies, that isn’t the case. An employee’s desire to learn a professionally-transferrable skill doesn’t necessarily mean you are training staff for another company. In many cases, job satisfaction leads to company loyalty. But the point is, a workplace built on trust means an employee feels comfortable to ask about skills development. And that is a win-win situation.
A high-trust company gets results. And by developing employee-focused practices like open communication, a focus on achievement, and encouraging skills development, you will be closer to building a solid foundation of trust in the workplace, which is one of the best strategies you can use to optimize your organization.
Trust me on this.