We all want to have complete trust in our family members and friends, so it’s normal to wonder if it’s as important at work. People rely on each other at work to help them get the job done, but reliance can’t exist without trust. Below is a list of 12 reasons why trust is important in the workplace and how you can foster a culture of trust.
Benefits of Having Trust at Work
Both employers and employees benefit when there is a feeling of trust at work. Not only can trust help to build and maintain strong working relationships, but it can set a good precedent for many aspects of a work day - from teamwork and collaboration to employee performance.
#1 Better Teamwork and Collaboration
Many people work as part of a team. When there is distrust amongst members, the team doesn’t work as well as it otherwise could. Some members of the team may not fully share their knowledge or experience, worried that a colleague will use it to get ahead. Other employees may fear that they won’t receive the recognition they deserve, so they keep their ideas from the team until late in the project hoping they receive the accolades.
#2 Higher Morale, Less Stress
A trusting work environment is likely to have higher staff morale than workplaces with low levels of trust. People can work without ‘watching their back’, so workers are less likely to feel stressed. A stressful environment can cause high presenteeism where staff aren’t as productive as they could be, and high absenteeism when staff take more sick days to cope with their high levels of stress.
#3 Increased Productivity
Untrustworthy colleagues can cause staff to gossip or not want to cooperate with staff they can’t trust. Their actions mean they aren’t engaged in productive work, and poor productivity hurts the bottom line. If workers have little to complain about, they’re more likely to do their work. Even 10 minutes per day of unproductive time for each employee can have a huge impact on the bottom line at the end of the year.
#4 Change Isn’t Feared or Resisted
The modern workforce sees regular change. The management team, tasks and roles can change regularly in some organisations. For some workers, any change announcement strikes fear into them, particularly if they feel they can’t trust management to do right by them. When workers have complete trust in management, there’s less fear and resistance around change.
#5 Improved Employee Performance
When a worker trusts and respects a superior, they’re more likely to accept feedback on their work or during an appraisal and commit to making improvements. The employee is more likely to view the feedback as coaching and not criticism.
#6 Ethical Decisions are Made
In a trusting workplace, it’s more likely that managers and staff will make ethical decisions. People realize that an unethical action will go against the culture of the organization that everyone enjoys.
How to Build a Culture of Trust in the Workplace
It’s not enough to just want a culture of trust at work, it has to be cultivated.
#7 Stop Micromanaging
Micromanaging doesn’t engender trust. Employees feel valued when they’re allowed to make decisions on behalf of the organization and management.
#8 Give Employees a Voice
Workers want to be heard. Use surveys to find out what employees think of the culture, their ideas for improving processes, their suggestions and opinions. Give feedback to staff and tell them what the organization is doing to implement some of the ideas.
#9 Treat Everyone Equally
Workers notice when individuals or teams aren’t being treated fairly. If it looks like a decision is biased, explain the reasons for the decision. Be consistent with the treatment of staff. You might expect more from one employee than another, but you can’t allow this to be a reason to treat them any differently. Be consistent with your expectations of workers.
#10 Care for All Employees
Workers have lives outside work and whether organizations like it or not, workers’ personal lives impact heavily on their work. Managers and colleagues should take an interest in each other and check that everything is okay in their lives. This will help to reinforce the workplace as a safe place to be upfront about life admin rather than making up a white lie.
#11 All Managers Set a Good Example
Building a culture of trust starts from the top. If workers see managers not behaving in a trustworthy manner, or not consistent to the company’s values and mission, they may feel that it’s fine to do the same. Staff members notice their colleagues' poor behavior and soon the snowball effect impacts the organization's culture.
#12 Tell the Truth
Some managers may decide it’s best for staff if they hide the truth or tell half the story because it’s bad news. Most staff would prefer to know the ugly truth than to be kept in the dark. But not disclosing information, the organization risks causing feelings of mistrust amongst workers.
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