Crucial Tips for Building Trust in the Workplace
There are few things more important than building trust in the workplace. Trust is the foundation on which excellent productivity, performance and camaraderie are built. Without it, business environments become toxic, employees abandon their leaders and companies spend more time dealing with issues than generating growth.
Unfortunately, developing trust can be challenging. Only 1 in 5 HR engagement leaders believe their staff members actually trust their managers and supervisors. What’s more, the advent of remote and distributed working practices has made it even harder for companies to cultivate trust. Without face-to-face interactions, it’s easy for team members to become disconnected from their colleagues.
Though trust can be challenging to establish in the workplace, it’s extremely valuable when leveraged correctly. Employees in high-trust workplaces report 75% less stress, and demonstrate 50% higher levels of productivity. So, how do you create trust in the workplace?
The Value of Building Trust in the Workplace
The first step in developing a trusting workplace is understanding why it’s so valuable. To create an effective working environment, business leaders need to cultivate a strong culture, where employees feel supported, respected and comfortable in their roles. Trust helps to create a landscape of psychological safety, where employees feel secure and well understood.
When employees can trust their team members and business leaders, they’re less likely to seek out alternative roles. This means business leaders don’t have to spend as much time on recruitment to fill gaps in their teams. This is particularly important in a time of increasing skill shortages.
Around 96% of CEOs now say building and maintaining trust in their workforce is a top priority, and many companies are investing more in the development of trust, to retain their workforce.
Trust doesn’t just prompt employees to stay with their employers, it can also encourage higher levels of engagement and productivity.
Ultimately, building trust in the workplace ensures companies can:
- Preserve talent: In an age of increasing talent shortages and expensive hiring practices, trust ensures you hold onto the talent you need to thrive in your industry. It’s one of the best ways to make sure your team members stay with you long-term.
- Improve productivity: When employees trust their colleagues and their workplace, they’re less likely to suffer from burnout and stress. This means they have more of the focus they need to do their best work, and accomplish business goals.
- Ensure resilience: When companies face unexpected issues, such as economic turmoil or changes in leadership, a strong sense of trust can improve the resiliency of the workforce. Team members trust the business to continue taking their best interests into account.
How to Build Trust in the Workplace: Top Tips
It’s important for business leaders to remember that building trust in the workplace is a long-term process. People don’t automatically start trusting their bosses and team members overnight. To build trust into your company culture, you need to commit to a consistent strategy. However, there are a few strategies you can implement into your day-to-day practices to improve trust.
Here are some of the best ways to start making a meaningful impact.
1. Prioritize Listening
One of the main reasons employees don’t feel they can trust their employers or colleagues, comes from a problem with listening. Many professionals in leadership positions forget to listen more than they speak. This can result in a lack of effective communication in the workplace, where important viewpoints are often overlooked or unheard.
Business leaders should be familiar with the communication styles of their employees, and committed to constantly demonstrating their listening skills. To truly make trust a part of the company culture, however, it’s not enough for just leadership to have the right listening skills. Active, engaged listening should be taught to every member of staff.
Consider investing in training to help employees understand the value of active listening, and discover new techniques for boosting communication. For instance, you could encourage your team members to repeat what other colleagues say back to them for clarification, or ask questions for context. Additionally, ensure every member of staff (including the leadership team), is ready to listen to not just positive statements, but negative feedback and concerns too.
2. Remove the Barriers to Inclusive Communication
Trust relies on exceptional, consistent and transparent communication. Unfortunately, not every business environment makes it easy for employees to communicate freely with their peers and colleagues. In a world of hybrid and remote work, it’s easy for some team members to end up feeling isolated or removed from the day-to-day interactions of the business.
This is particularly true in an environment where some meetings and discussions are commonly held in-person, preventing remote staff from getting involved. To ensure everyone feels they can trust each other, it’s important for leaders to pave the way for constant, inclusive communication.
Provide team members with a range of tools to help them communicate, from messaging and chat to video conferencing tools. With tools like Brosix, you can instantly provide team members with a host of different communication tools in one convenient package. Brosix offers everything from video conferencing, to whiteboard tools, encrypted messaging and more.
Use your online communication tools to keep employees informed with regular updates and broadcasts. Create channels where employees can communicate across departments, and build relationships with colleagues. Most importantly, ensure everyone has a way to speak up and share their insights about the growth of the brand.
3. Collect Feedback Regularly
For employees to feel they can trust their employers and business leaders, they need to believe that these individuals take their input seriously. The “Voice of the Employee” has become increasingly important in recent years, as today’s talented professionals continue to prioritize empathy and respect from their employers.
Soliciting feedback from team members is the best way for business leaders to keep their fingers on the pulse of the workforce. It ensures that companies can pinpoint the challenges their team members are facing and find ways to overcome them. It also means employees can actively contribute to making the workplace a more productive, supportive environment for their needs.
The key to effectively collecting feedback is making sure you’re doing it on a consistent basis. In the past, many companies have made the mistake of simply waiting for annual reviews to look at comments from employees. However, around 64% of staff say they want an effective way to provide feedback to team leaders at any time. Create a channel on your chat system for collecting reviews, use bots to send surveys and polls to teams, and stay up to date.
4. Act on Employee Insights
Collecting employee feedback is great, but it’s not enough on its own. Creating a collaborative, trustworthy and open work environment means showing team members that you’re willing to act on their insights. Once you’ve received input from your team members, think about how you can address their issues in the most effective way possible.
If your employees complain about a lack of bonding opportunities in the workplace, you could consider hosting a weekly chat session where everyone gets together to discuss non-work related topics. If your team members are concerned their productivity levels are dropping, you could consider asking them what kind of tools they might like to use to improve their performance.
The best way to act on employee insights is collaboratively. Once you’ve identified a problem in your workplace, speak to the team member who provided the initial feedback. Ask for their advice on how you can resolve the issue, and consider taking the problem to the wider team for more discussion. Where possible, it’s important to act on feedback as quickly as possible, so frustrations don’t have a chance to snowball and damage productivity and retention.
5. Provide Regular Feedback
Feedback is a powerful tool for cultivating trust, but it’s also a two-way street. Just as business leaders and employers should be regularly collecting insights from their team members, they should also be sharing information in return. Openly and transparently providing feedback on what your team members are doing well, and what they could improve on, creates a more honest environment.
If team members are struggling in a specific area, speak to them one-on-one, and ask for their suggestions on how they might be able to overcome the issue. This will show your staff members that you’re willing to work with them to solve problems, rather than just berating them.
If your team members do something well, show them appreciation. Something as simple as sending a thank-you message over instant messenger when your employee excels in their work can be enough to transform their opinion of the business. Awards, bonuses and other forms of positive feedback can also be extremely valuable for improving retention. Around 90% of employees who receive recognition and thanks from their bosses say they feel higher levels of trust in that individual.
6. Deliver a Sense of Autonomy
While providing feedback and guidance can be valuable in any workplace, micro-managing your team often leads to a significant drop in trust. Business leaders and employers who constantly loom over the shoulder of their team members demonstrate they don’t trust their employees to do the right thing. This can lead to higher levels of frustration and disengagement in the workplace.
In a high-octane business environment, it can be difficult for supervisors and business leaders to let go entirely. After all, you want to make sure your team members are reaching their targets and pushing you further towards your goals. However, it’s important for employees to feel that their employers trust their abilities, skills and focus.
Where possible, empower your employees to make their own decisions and take control of their own workplaces. Give your team members the freedom to choose their own schedules (where appropriate) if they’re working from home, provided they adhere to deadlines. Consider asking for your team’s opinions when planning next steps for a project. Let go of some of the control.
7. Create Relationship Building Opportunities
The more we connect with other people as human beings, the more likely we are to trust them. However, a lot of workplaces struggle to provide their team members with opportunities to build relationships. Although watercooler conversation might not seem particularly conducive to productivity, it does allow employees to learn more about each other, and form deeper bonds.
Giving your team members a space where they can connect with their peers, when not collaborating on tasks, could be a great way to strengthen relationships. You can also look into other active ways of encouraging bonding, such as introducing team-building exercises to your employees. There are various apps and tools online which enable you to create team building strategies for virtual as well as in-office staff.
Creating positive styles of competition could be helpful too. For instance, challenge teams of people in your workforce to work together to achieve a specific goal, and reward the group that reaches the target first. Another option could be to set up a coaching, mentorship or buddy system, encouraging higher-level employees to work with beginners to help them achieve their professional goals.
8. Commit to Transparent Communication
It’s hard for any employee to trust a company when they’re left out of the loop. Business leaders are often extremely cautious about the information they reveal to their team members. In some cases, this is necessary, for instance when you need to preserve private and confidential information. However, introducing transparency whenever possible can lead to some substantial improvements in trust.
Team members shouldn’t have to learn about changes in the workplace by hearing rumors through the grapevine or gossiping with colleagues. Every employee should be informed of what’s going on within the company (positive or negative), as quickly as possible.
Share updates and broadcasts on your messaging apps to ensure everyone is aware of recent changes. Hold regular meetings via video to discuss upcoming projects and evolutions in the workplace. Teach business leaders and managers how to connect with their staff transparently and honestly. If business leaders are honest with their employees, they’re more likely to be open in return.
9. Practice Consistency
Consistency is one of the core building blocks of trust in any workplace. It shows employees what they can expect in different situations. Delivering a consistent experience to your employees means coming up with policies and standard operating procedures for each potential event.
For instance, every supervisor and leader should have a set of guidelines to follow when approaching an employee with negative feedback. It’s particularly important to show consistency around negative situations. After all, if an employee does something wrong, and they’re not sure how their leader will respond, they’ll be more likely to hide their behavior, or act defensively about it.
In addition to following standard practices on a regular basis, every member of the team should be expected to match their actions to their words. Show your team members that you expect them to follow through on their promises, by turning your business leaders into examples. Whenever a leader says they’re going to do something, make sure they actually do it. This will improve the chances of your team members following in their footsteps.
10. Develop Soft Skills
Finally, building trust in the workplace requires companies to focus on developing strong, human connections within their team. This means every employee should have the right set of “soft skills” to navigate relationships with others.
When hiring new members of staff, make sure they showcase excellent communication skills, as well as strong levels of emotional intelligence. For team members already in your workforce, it might be worth introducing training opportunities to help them develop these skills. Emotional intelligence classes can show employees how to effectively practice empathy and patience.
It’s also worth rewarding evidence of good soft skills, with praise for people who demonstrate important values like compassion and care. People with stronger soft skills are more likely to connect with their peers on a deeper level, and communicate more effectively about a range of different topics. The more you work on developing genuine, authentic and emotionally intelligent people for your team, the more your company culture will thrive.
Start Building Trust in the Workplace
Trust is one of the most important and valuable tools any employer can leverage. The more team members trust their supervisors, managers and colleagues, the more likely they are to thrive in virtually any professional setting. Trust helps business leaders to retain top talent for their team, attract new employees, and preserve high levels of productivity.
While developing trust does require business leaders to commit to a long-term, consistent strategy, it’s not always as complicated as it seems. Once you begin implementing the steps above, you’ll find trust gradually begins to grow throughout your workplace. The key to success is to keep working on building that powerful sense of trust.
The right tools, such as messaging apps which help to keep team members connected and improve communication, can significantly boost your chances of developing trust. Check out Brosix today to see how it can help you to build a more trust-driven company culture.