Written by Laura Autumn-Cox
Trust is the cornerstone of all relationships, including work life interactions. As many jobs transition to remote roles where trust between employers and employees is more important than ever, how can trust be achieved?
For businesses with workforces that work from home, building strong trust is crucial. With so many distractions, it's easy to lose focus and feel distanced from colleagues and managers. Distractions and distance are a recipe for a breakdown in trust. Trust between workers and employees is equally as important for businesses that continue to operate face-to-face. For example, a member of staff could take advantage of their position by consistently turning up late and lying to their manager. However, when the employer feels a sense of loyalty to their employer, they will be less likely to do things that they know would negatively impact the organisation.
If they have a positive, trusting relationship with their employer, they will feel more invested in the success of the business. They will feel that they are contributing to the wider purpose of the organisation, which will make their work feel more meaningful. Rather than just turning up, they will want to go the extra mile. Conversely, if a worker doesn't feel trusted by their employer, they may look for ways to justify the perceived (or actual) lack of trust by being less dedicated to their work.
Employers can take active steps to promote trust, including:
1. Investing in employee development – In certain careers, keeping a job is stressful enough without the added challenges of increased workload and managing sensitive working relationships. Just as in any other relationship, lack of security impacts trust. Employers can help their workers feel more secure by helping them with their continuing professional development. This could involve funding training courses, giving employees time to study, or even simply signposting the individual to relevant qualifications. Once an employee sees that their employer wants to help them develop their personal skills, they will be more likely to exhibit these learnings in the workplace.
2. Independent time management – online time tracking tools like Harvest are a kinder alternative to built-in software that monitors employees as they work. Rather than tracking people constantly, Harvest is operated by the employee, who can start and stop the timer themselves. When they start work in the morning, they start the timer. When they break for lunch, they stop the timer, and start it again when they come back. This requires a significant level of trust from the employer, but positively impacts the worker's mindset by giving them independence to log their own hours. This digital timesheet also allows the employer to see what projects or tasks the employee is working on, helping with resource planning.
3. Transparent communication – employers have a responsibility to be open and honest with their employees through regular communication. This can be done through the form of a company newsletter, CEO email, or even a short daily meeting. Even for large organisations, online video conferencing means that communication between different levels of the business is easier than ever. A daily 5 – 10 minute check in at the start of the day can build morale and help employees to feel part of the team, and promote openness about project progression.
4. Creating an individual relationship – If an employer knows their employees by name and communicates directly with them, they encourage a trusting relationship by treating the individual as a person, not just someone on the payroll.
Trust can often be a challenging, but for employers who rely on building strong relationships with their workers, it's one worth investing in. By investing in employees, giving them responsibility over their time, communicating openly and regularly, and treating each worker as an individual, they can promote trust and create a positive culture throughout their organisation.