Perhaps the most important component in an effective workplace is trust between employees and management. It’s the lubricant that ensures the gears of your company interactions run smoothly and efficiently, and if trust is lacking, effective operation can essentially grind to a halt.
Unfortunately, recent years have seen a significant decline in the relationship of trust between employees at various levels, and this can create problems for HR and management when it comes to managing talent. What is it that’s causing this trust hemorrhage in the workforce, and what can you do to reverse this alarming trend?
The importance of trust in the workplace
Every employer wants to feel like it can trust its employees to perform their job while adhering to company values, but it’s equally as important for the staff to feel like their trust in management isn’t misplaced. As one blogger writing for Forbes stated, the benefits of fostering a healthy relationship of trust in the workplace are significant. A workforce that trusts its leadership will operate more efficiently and authentically, and be more willing to go the extra mile in times of need. Overall performance will be much higher if your employees are operating from a position of mutual trust.
In contrast, a lack of trust in the workplace can have severe effects that any company would want to avoid. According to Psychology Today, poor trust can negatively impact workplace performance in several ways. If your employees lack basic trust in management, it can very easily lead to situations where workers are only performing at bare minimum standards, which stifles innovation and growth and leads to stagnation very quickly. And it goes without saying that a workplace where employees lack trust is toxic to the social climate of your company.
Why trust falters
Flat-lining employee trust doesn’t come from nowhere – it usually arises in response to behaviors exhibited by the management. One of the most tried-and-true trust-sinkers is management requesting strange things of employees, such as tasks that are not in alignment with the job description. The Society for Human Resource Management reported on a poll from Harris that indicated that around 22 percent of workers had been asked to take on extraneous tasks by their bosses. Even if such requests are made in good faith, it can often cause staff to be suspicious of management as a force that views its workers strictly as a resource.
Psychology Today also indicated the importance of following through on stated intentions as a means of preserving trust. Even if managers are busy, forgetting to follow up on requests or providing false or incomplete information are surefire ways to erode staff’s confidence in leadership.
An important question to ask is what employers can do to rebuild trust in instances where it may have been lost or diminished. It goes without saying that the effort of rebuilding such trust is a top-down endeavor, requiring the full attention of management and HR to drive the process.
Employee trust is hinged on perception of the company’s integrity and concern for workers and the community at large as much as profit and corporate motives. Such ideals need to be established from day one – create online courses and online training as part of the on-boarding process specifically dedicated to company values and integrity as much as procedural knowledge and job skills. Foster transparent leadership – letting your staff know that your word is worth their trust – by ensuring to follow through on your promises of action or communication. Such behaviors will send the message that you care about the well-being and fit of employees as much as you care about driving performance and the bottom line.