5 Things All Companies Must Do to Build Trust with Employees

Trust is the most important characteristic for employers to give to their employees. By giving trust freely and building trust through action, employers will benefit from increased employee engagement and retention.

Recently I shared an article about how custom career paths can benefit companies’ employee retention and revenue. In order to encourage employees to share their insights, views, and pitch, trust needs to be established.

At Seer, we dug into the data to help determine a replicable strategy on how to build trust and found that the four most important areas are in culture, employee engagement, communication, and transparency.

#1 Culture

Before Seer I had never heard of a company who gives trust freely from Day 1. We are trusted to work the hours we desire, take vacation whenever we’d like, call out sick for the full duration of our illness (without worrying that people think we’re faking it).

So many company policies are based on the “bad apples.” From the time an employee starts at a company they are given strict guidelines on how they must operate because there is little trust that employees will not take advantage of the system. This is seen as the standard for how companies should operate. Requiring doctors’ notes, proof for funeral attendance, and not allowing for remote work are all reminders that employees are not trusted.

Fundamentally establishing trust from company policies and benefits is a cultural change that can be made to show that employers trust employees’ judgment. They are treated like adults who can make their own decisions for themselves and the company.

#2 Hiring the Right People

For this to be feasible, companies must start by hiring the right people. They need to hire leaders, not managers. And hire employees that are trustworthy.

Lauren Boyd, Seer’s recruiter, shared some of her top tips to sniff out the trustworthiness of candidates.

Social Media Stalking

Looking at social media is a good way of understanding a person outside of their professional portfolio. Many people shoot themselves in the foot here. Last March, a candidate’s most recent tweet was “Called in sick to work -- sign of a great St. Patricks Day! #StPatricksHangover”. Enough said.

Job Hopping

Jumping from job-to-job every few months can be a red flag. Be aware of candidates that start framing their tenure at each in a job in years vs months. For example: (Company 2014-2014). There’s a greater likelihood that there is more to the story.

Consistency During Interview Process

At Seer, we typically have a four-step interview process and we take notes throughout each phase. This way we are able to determine when there are inconsistencies in the interview.

Gut and Intuition

The last piece of advice that Lauren shared was to follow your gut. If something feels “off” about your candidate trust your intuition.

#3 The Right to Fail

Companies that allow their employees space and trust to fail will be rewarded. Knowing that it’s okay to fail and that managers and team members will have the employees’ backs creates a feeling of trust and sets realistic expectations for employees to meet.

Encouraging people to share their failures and what they learned from them also promotes team community and respect knowing that no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. The goal is to learn from those mistakes.

Allowing people to fail also means not micromanaging employees. Employees should be allowed to make their own decisions on how to approach a problem based on their insights into the situation. Micromanagement shows that employees aren’t to be trusted in accomplishing goals and does not promote trust.

Allowing employees to run into problems shows that you trust them and their decision-making skills.

#4 Employee Engagement

According to the Gallup Survey on the State of the American Workplace, employee engagement offers some wonderful benefits.

Highly engaged employees on average results in the following for businesses:

  •      21% higher profitability
  •      10% increase in customer metrics
  •      20% increase in sales
  •      41% reduction in absenteeism
  •      17% increase in productivity
  •      24-59% lower turnover (based on high or low turnover organizations)

So how can employers improve employee engagement?

Gallup recognizes 12 key performance indicators. Many of these indicators are directly correlated to building trust among employees and are implementable for companies.

Below I have listed those that are most correlated to trust and questions that company leaders should ask to determine where should improvements be made.

KPI 1: In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work

Are you regularly giving team members recognition or praise for their work? Are you encouraging team members at all levels to give praise not only to people they manage, but to other team members up and down the chain?

KPI 2: My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person

As a manager, do you send personal emails when people are out sick wishing them well? Do you take the time to get to know your employees by asking about their weekend plans, vacations, or goals?

KPI 3: The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important

What are the values of your organization? Do you put employees first or clients first? Does your company provide value back to the community through donations, volunteering events, or building meaningful relationships?

KPI 4: At work, my opinions seem to count

As a leader or manager, when have you asked your team to help solve complex problems? Do you hold brainstorming sessions on how to improve the company or solicit feedback on employee frustrations?

KPI 5: In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress

Is there a communicated cadence for reviews or performance updates? How often do you communicate with your team about their progress?

KPI 6: My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work

Are your standards of performance consistent across the team? Are you hiring quality employees that carry their weight and help team members? Are you trying to hire people that are more intelligent than you as to help elevate the team?

KPI 7: There is someone at work who encourages my development

Are you having conversations with your team on how they’d like to grow and how you can support them in their professional growth? Are you challenging your employees and helping them grow? Do you create an environment where team members at all levels are helping their growth?

#5 Communication & Transparency

Amongst Seer employees, transparency was one of the most cited reasons of how employers can build trust. Team members want to know what decisions are made, and more importantly how decisions are being made, on a regular cadence. If the information is being whispered about without it can create an environment of distrust.

Employees want to know that they have accessibility to leadership. Team leaders and managers having regular office hours to answer questions and connect with employees at all levels help show that they are respected as employees and an integral part of the organization. An open door policy of feedback should also be encouraged.

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