Trust is powerful. It doesn’t just benefit your working relationships; it also has a concrete effect on how your business and your employees perform. The 2019 Trust Outlook study from the Trust Edge Leadership Institute found that 40% of employees would work longer hours for a company with trusted leadership, and more than 65% would offer more ideas and solutions when working for such a company.1 Trusted businesses also stand to make more money: The same report found that the majority (more than 70%) of Americans would not refer to others the products or services of organizations they don’t trust.1
How to build employee trust
So how can you cultivate greater trust in your business? The first step is demonstrating honesty. “The #1 action a salesperson can take to earn trust is to be honest,” according to the Trust Outlook study.1 The same goes for business leaders who want to earn the trust of their teams.
Employees aren’t looking for personal transparency. Rather, employees want to work for leaders who are transparent about why they make the decisions they do, clear about why they ask their teams to change course or take on new responsibilities, and willing to acknowledge errors when they occur. More than 92% of people would have more trust in senior leaders who are transparent about their mistakes.2
Honesty is key to maintaining trust during times of change
Trust is likely more important than ever when undergoing an organizational or societal change. Whether you’re navigating internal shifts, such as a restructuring or a reduction in staff, or your business is required to adapt to larger societal forces, like the COVID-19 pandemic, employees and customers will be searching for a trusted voice. Employees who report high trust in their employers have 2.6 times greater capacity for withstanding workplace change, according to Gartner.3 Therefore, the capacity for change may be considered critical to companies that want to remain competitive and resilient in the workforce.
Honest communication is essential too. Some experts suggest that “radical transparency”—one of the top communication trends of 2021 as cited by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)—may be seen as the key to mending broken trust. According to the IABC, businesses can walk toward transparent communications by informing employees about everything happening in the company as soon as it happens, being available for questions and answering those questions candidly.4
How employee benefits build trust
Employees are under increasing financial strain, and benefits are a critical source of security for many of them. Members of today’s workforce anticipate receiving expanded benefits to help them feel more secure during tumultuous times. Of those surveyed, 63% expect at least one expanded benefit, such as supplemental insurance or telemedicine options, and 45% expressed high interest in pandemic insurance to help protect their income.5
Supplemental benefits can help mitigate the financial risk associated with an unexpected illness or injury by helping cover high medical bills. Many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and only 21% of those surveyed could go six months or longer without a paycheck.5 A full 48% of respondents would be unable to pay $1,000 or more in unexpected expenses without relying on debt or credit.5
Communication is also important when it comes to benefits. Clear communications can help employees make the best decisions about the benefits available to them and can help maintain trust when changes are made to their benefits.
By offering more protection for your team, you’re showing real concern for their financial security. Providing a robust benefits package and making sure your employees are well equipped to take advantage of those benefits options can show the kind of clarity and compassion that helps to build trust in the workplace.
1 Trust Edge Leadership. “The 2019 Trust Outlook.” Published 2019. Accessed 6.29.2021.
2 Trust Edge Leadership. “The 2021 Trust Outlook.” Published 2021. Accessed 6.29.2021.
3 Gartner. “Gartner Cautions HR Leaders That the Risk of Change Fatigue Among Employees Has Doubled in 2020.” Published 10.14.2020. Accessed 6.29.2021.
4 International Association of Business Communicators. “Could Radical Transparency Be the Solution to an Eroding Trust in Authority?” Published 4.20.2021. Accessed 7.2.2021.
5 Aflac WorkForces Report. “Workplace Benefits Trends Executive Summary.” Published September 2020. Accessed 6.29.2021.
The information herein is provided for general informational purposes and is not provided as legal advice for any person or for any specific situation.
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