How to Create a Trusting Company Culture

Today’s post, the final in a 3-part series, comes to us from Workforce Institute board member and HR Bartender Sharlyn Lauby. Here Sharlyn shares her insights about what it takes to create a trusting company culture.

Trust is important. Customers want to trust the businesses from whom they purchase products and services. Employees want to trust the companies where they work. Trust is the top driver of employee engagement. And companies with employee engagement strategies outperform those without by 3 times, according to O.C.Tanner.

But gaining trust isn’t easy. The latest reporting from the Edelman Trust Barometer indicates that globally, 75 percent of people trust “my employer” to do what is right. This is significantly more than non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at 57 percent, business (56 percent) and media (47 percent).

So, businesses have some work to do when it comes to building cultures of trust. In this series, we’ve talked about the “5 Essential Currencies to Your Company’s Employee Value Proposition” because employees need to trust that they will receive the currencies (aka employee value proposition or EVP) that they’ve been promised.

We’ve also talked about the “4 Steps Toward Building a Recruiting Process that Creates Employee Trust” because the recruiting process is where trust is initially built between employees and companies. It takes place during interviews, orientation, and onboarding.  

During KronosWorks 2018, Malysa O’Connor, senior director of marketing at Kronos, talked about the four qualities that are necessary to build a trusting workplace culture (note that these four things aren’t just qualities needed at an organizational level. Employee-to-employee trust is just as important as manager- to-employee trust):

  1. Capability. Organizations and individuals need to have the ability to deliver on their promises. Does the company have the ability to give employees what they promise in the EVP? Employees also need to have both the responsibility and the authority to deliver on their promises as well.
  2. Transparency. Are employees and the company honest about their capabilities? This isn’t designed to be a cop-out as in, “Oh me, I’d love to do that but the company won’t let me.” Rather, that employees and companies need to be open about what they’re able to do. \
  3. Alignment. This is about values. Does the organization have care and respect as a value? Employees should demonstrate care and respect in their interactions with customers and each other. And employees should hold themselves and others accountable for these organizational values.
  4. Past behavior. Ultimately, trust is built on what we say and what we do. We can talk about trust all day long, but we also have to live the qualities of capability, transparency, and alignment. People will look at past behaviors to determine if a person (or organization) is trustworthy.

Trust is essential in today’s business world. This isn’t just the latest trend du jour. It’s also not a generational thing. Every age group wants work with dependable people and in a place they can trust. Companies that focus on building trusting cultures will win the talent wars and the customer wars too.

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