- To enable harmony, productivity and growth, employers and employees must trust each other.
- Trust is a vital ingredient in the future of work, particularly as companies offer flexible hybrid work options.
- Trust not only drives productivity, but it can also boost collaboration among employees.
As leaders rethink work models and how to engage with employees to ensure the long-term success of their organizations, trust needs to be prioritized. Companies that have trusted their employees throughout the coronavirus pandemic, while they worked remotely, have earned the trust of their employees in return.
These companies are the ones that are best positioned to face and overcome the critical challenges presented to their most important asset—their people.
Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts were predicting a talent war and a global shortage of necessary skills. While 74% of employees were “sheltering in job” during the pandemic, experts predict that voluntary turnover will rise sharply this year and next. This means that companies are at a great risk to lose top talent if they are unable to engage with employees.
Due to the nature of how people have worked over the past 18+ months, a lot of focus has been placed on offering remote and hybrid work opportunities to attract and retain top talent.
Even companies that were originally planning to ask employees to return to the office full-time—e.g., Uber—have been forced to rethink those plans after employees voiced their discontent, and went as far as to say they are willing to leave their company if asked to return full-time.
However, it takes more than offering a flexible work policy to truly engage employees.
Considering there has never been a more critical time for companies to revolutionize work practices and the fact that the war for talent is on, now seems like the perfect time to build a new workforce reality.
And that starts with trust.
Why Trust Is Crucial to Business Success
During Baker McKenzie’s fifth FutureWorks conversation series, Dr. Margaret Heffernan, best-selling author and Professor of Practice at the University of Bath, argued that:
“Trust, in business, is an absolute driver of productivity, legitimacy, and reputation – what we’ve found in the pandemic is that the more [a company] give[s], the more [it] get[s] back.”Dr. Margaret Heffernan, best-selling author and Professor of Practice at the University of Bath
Trust not only drives productivity—as many companies have seen when they were forced to allow workers to work from home, but it can also boost collaboration among employees.
According to Dr. Heffernan, “the crucial thing about collaboration is how far it depends on the social capital of the people working together. The heart and soul of collaboration is a trusted relationship. It is building the social relationships of trust, generosity, and reciprocity, on which truly effective collaboration depends.”
Trust creates rapport, even when people have different perspectives and approaches. This is invaluable, as it not only creates a culture of tolerance and respect, but it is also a key driver of innovation and disruption.
When employees collaborate successfully and can see that what they bring to the table contributes to their company’s bottom-line, they are significantly less likely to leave their jobs.
Beyond collaboration, when employees trust their leaders and managers, they are more likely to be honest and transparent about the challenges they may be facing with projects or tasks at hand. This means that managers are better equipped to provide the necessary support for employees to meet their goals.
How to Build Trust with Employees
Allowing employees to work remotely after the pandemic is one way to build trust. By allowing employees to continue working from home or wherever they choose, leaders are sending a clear message that they trust that their employees will get their job done—regardless of where they are.
Additional ways to build and nourish a trusting relationship with employees include:
1. Make it personal
Managers and company executives should be intentional in creating and nurturing a personal connection with staff. By making an effort to get to know employees and being open to allow employees to get to know them back, managers can set up the groundwork for a trusting relationship. A personal connection can be something as simple as a shared interest in a sport or hobby, being from the same hometown, or being pet owners.
2. Prioritize communication
Transparency is key to getting employees to trust management and the company. One of the best ways to be transparent with employees is to communicate with them regularly; this means sharing the good news and the bad, as well as sharing information about company performance, financial results, board meeting decisions, etc.
3. Listen to what employees have to say
Trust is not built by asking questions, but by listening to the answers to those questions. Managers need to be intentional about listening to what employees have to say. When companies listen to employees, they will be able to make better decisions about the actions that need to be taken and how to move forward. Case in point: Uber listened to what employees had to say about their proposed return to office policy and changed it accordingly. Uber is now less likely to lose top talent than it was a few weeks ago.