Throughout the past year, businesses have placed an enormous amount of trust on their employees, especially for organisations that have been forced to mobilise their workforce at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that during lockdown, 46.6 per cent of the UK work force logged in from home, and that 86 per cent of those did so because of the pandemic.
Managers and leaders have had to motivate teams to complete tasks and engage with business strategies remotely while under the immense pressure of lockdown and amidst a national mood of dejection. As more workers return to the workplace, how can we maintain a positive and productive attitude?
Between furloughs, reduced hours, isolation and the risk of sickness, maintaining contact and trust in employees in the new world has been a challenge. But the effort to support your staff team is justified through increased productivity and profitability.
With one study revealing that employees who felt trusted in the workplace are 76 per cent more engaged than staff in low-trust environment, trusting your staff may save you from company liquidation if the economy worsens.
Here, we look at how to show that you trust your staff and why this is so important for the future of your business.
Why we mistrust and must trust
Mistrust in the workplace is an unhelpful but understandable sentiment, especially during times of economic uncertainty and business troubles. The investment in staff is expected to be returned with dedication and an export of effort by all players in your enterprise. Although research shows that scepticism of staff may begin as early as during the interview process.
One survey of workers and jobseekers revealed that 37 per cent of people were prepared to lie on their CV and in the interview to secure their job. 83 per cent of these people said that they secured a job as consequence. Already, the interview process can create suggestions that managers and leaders are being deceived into hiring staff who may not have the best interest in the organisation, only themselves.
However, these “lies” should be reassessed for their true purpose. They are exaggerated claims rather than complete falsifications and done with the intent of securing a job.
As a consequence, workplaces may naturally have an air of mistrust. According to one report, only 16 per cent of UK workers trust their managers. But this presents your business with a unique opportunity to progress ahead of your competition.
Workplaces require a balance of trust between staff and management. It starts from the top. If managers do not trust their employees to work diligently and uphold the values of the company, how can employees expect management to do right by them?
How to trust again
Trusting your employees is easy. But proving that you trust them requires extra effort. Trust is made by demonstrating that the company has the best interests of is staff at heart and is interested in developing them to the best of their ability.
This can be achieved by simply praising staff when it’s appropriate. Employment isn’t reward enough in the new flexible, digital world and proving that you care and value your staff can go a long way. Some organisations incentivise ideas that can improve business performance, which gets staff involved with business strategies and offers a perspective that management may not fully appreciate.
Sharing information with staff is also essential for creating a trusting environment. Openness is key and revealing information that may have traditionally been kept from staff members can reveal some interesting results. Sharing budgets and strategies with staff proves that your company has a culture of trust. Even more, staff are able to work more effectively towards a goal with greater understanding of what their work contributes.
Investing in employee development is another gratuitous effort that demonstrates trust in the employees and assures staff that their future and work in the company is assured and valued. Leadership development and training courses to accelerate learning on the job are valued by staff and can make employees more valuable and productive for businesses.
The value of trust
While the contributions of staff who are trusted in the workplace can create extra profitability, research proves that the value of trust is quite concrete in many organisations.
For example, one survey showed that 24 per cent of UK workers have left their company due to issues around trust.
In the UK, the average cost of replacing an employee is £12,000. Staff retention is essential moving into the post-lockdown world of employment. Where low trust environments amidst economic uncertainty may contribute to staff apprehensions about their working future, workers may begin to seek alternative employment they feel is more secure.
Ensuring that your staff feel trusted contributes to a feeling of security and avoids unnecessary and unwanted resignations that can cost the company money in rehiring and retraining. Some data further suggests that employees with a ten-year-plus tenure in employment are the highest performing and most engaged workers in a team. Creating a trusting environment to maintain staff loyalty is essential for productivity.
Trust may appear as an abstract construct in the fast-paced reality of business but returning to work after a slow-paced and different form of work has revealed the need to step back and evaluate the essential needs of employers. While the work continues to make sure that staff are safe in the workplace, the focus on trust and happiness should not be lost. When developing your strategies to compete in the new marketplace of the post-pandemic world, ensure that your business approaches account for an environment that encompasses trust.