The value of ‘trust’ in your workplace

Mar 07, 2024 by Mark Baines Category: Knowhow

What motivates us at work? Why do we work so hard to achieve yet greater margins, more business, better relationships?

Is it just about the money? That old phrase, ‘I work to earn the money to enjoy my life’ is often on peoples’ lips, or in their thoughts. But how true is it?

If you are responsible for your organisations’ HR and internal comms, you’ll know that what motivates most of your colleagues is not a bonus, although one is very nice and always welcome. It’s more to do with other factors.

In nearly all employee surveys, the word that keeps coming up is ‘trust’ in their employers. It appears that this is the single most important factor in making people: More engaged, more productive, more motivated, and more likely to stay.

High trust companies vs Low trust’ companies

One major survey (by Paul Zak, a leading US neuro-economist) showed the following results when employees in ‘high trust companies’ were compared to those in ‘low trust’ companies:

50% higher productivity , 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout, 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work

Which is another way of saying that with more trust between employees and management in a company, you’ll achieve more. This is especially true when a company is in the ‘knowledge economy’ (though of course it applies to all) as in these organisations many of the employees are more knowledgeable than their managers, and as such enjoy considerable freedom of movement between companies. They are ‘user-choosers’ of their place of work.

The value of trust

Further research by the MIT Sloan (a leading US Management School) shows that this is important because employees who feel trusted are:

  • 260% more motivated to work
  • 50% less likely to look for a new job
  • 100% better focused
  • Have 100% higher productivity
  • Have 100% higher satisfaction at work
  • And 41% lower rates of absenteeism

This is true of all organisations, not just companies. For example, any military commander will tell you that trust in the officers is what makes a strong fighting force – not hatred for the enemy. It’s the same in team sports, such as rugby, football, rowing etc, which is why a good manager who has the trust of his/her team will make all the difference on the pitch.

But how do you know if you enjoy a high level of trust in your company?

The easiest way is to listen out for the sort of comments people make when they know they are trusted and feel safe, such as ‘I don’t know’, ‘I disagree’, ‘I’m concerned’, ‘I have an idea’ etc. If you hear these, you know you enjoy their trust. If you hear the opposite, you clearly don’t.

So how do you go about winning ‘trust’ in the workplace? I suggest:

  1. Start with the Leadership Team: this will include things like authenticity, empathy, dependability, consistency, approachability, clarity, etc.
  2. Give people a reason to trust you and reinforce it: so make sure your employees know and share your Mission, Vision and Values. Even better, get them to help you to draw them up!
  3. Train and coach your Managers in People Management: ie don’t assume they’re any good at winning trust – teach them how to do it!

If you follow these guidelines you will start to earn employees’ trust, and should see all the good things listed above. These days, you can’t afford to treat employees as machines, and trust is the main area where you can make a difference.

Contact us today to find out how we can help.

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