Is a lack of trust crippling your company?

Trust is a two-way street – and if you’re not taking these steps, your workplace morale, productivity and retention will suffer

Is a lack of trust crippling your company?
If trust in your organization begins and ends with staff trusting they’ll get paid on time, your employees could be a flight risk.

Workers who trust their employer, and who feel trusted in return, are more likely to go the extra mile in their job, while those who don’t will lack loyalty and motivation.

There’s no one-size-fits-all fix for a trust deficit, but there are steps HR can take to create a culture that fosters staff confidence in their workplace and its leaders, says Ultimate Software’s chief people officer Vivian Maza.

Ahead of hosting a webcast on August 9, Maza spoke to HRD on why trust is a two-way street, how it inspires innovation, and why such values are a crucial part of company culture.

HRD: Why is trust important in workplaces? How does it impact engagement and performance?
VM: Trust is vital to the success of an organization, and, more importantly, its people. When people know they’re trusted, they’ll be more likely to reach their greatest potential. They’ll take more strategic risks and be more innovative, because they won’t be afraid to fail. They’ll understand that, if they try something new or pitch a concept different from the norm and it doesn’t work the first, second or fifth time, it’s OK. Their colleagues, managers, and leadership will support them 100 percent, and they’ll work together to come up with the best solution.

Trust allows innovation to happen. Trust empowers people to strive for more, and to truly thrive. Trust unlocks creativity within the workplace and leads to better service to an organization’s customers, as employees are more likely to go the extra mile for others when they know they’re fully trusted by the company to take care of customers.
HRD: Employers put a lot of emphasis on culture, although for many, there’s still an idea of culture being beer and ping pong-based, rather than values-based. How do they ensure trust is a part of their culture?
VM: Great workplace culture spans far beyond daily perks like free food, video games, and massages. Of course, those are all important and part of the complete package. But it’s also about the intangibles.

At the end of the day, it’s company values that can have the greatest long-term impact on people. Values like trust, care, and respect affect all employees. They ultimately create a positive and productive culture, and help protect it. Having a culture of trust starts with making it part of your company mission.

Ultimate was founded more than 25 years ago on the core principle of “people first.” Everything we do, every day – from how we treat our people to how we develop our products and services – centres on “people first.” At Ultimate, we believe establishing and maintaining a great culture is about making people your priority. When you focus on putting people first and caring for them like family, the trust will follow.

HRD: What causes employees to lack trust?
VM: There is no “one-size-fits-all” reason, and there can be many factors causing a separation or absence of trust. There can be a lack of transparency, for example. Do employees routinely hear from company leadership, or even their managers on a regularly/weekly basis? Are they made aware of the company’s short- and long-term goals and business objectives, new products and services, and new programs – and do they know how their daily contributions fit into the big picture?

Listening is also crucial. Employees need to feel they can bring ideas and feedback to the table, and that their company is listening.

A company-wide engagement survey is a great way to check the pulse of your culture, and new technology is making it even easier for organizations to measure employee sentiment and levels of trust, and in real time. But the most important step is to act upon the results.

HRD: How can HR and business leaders resolve a lack of trust?
VM: Much like trust between two people, trust between an organization and its employees is earned over time, not overnight. It’s something you have to focus on and work towards earning, and then continue nurturing so you can sustain it long term. You can start by telling your employees you trust them, but that only goes so far. You have to “walk the talk” and show them you trust them.

Here at Ultimate, we just unveiled a new unlimited PTO (paid time off) plan, so employees can take as much time as they feel they need to relax, recharge, and pursue personal interests. We know our people work hard every day, and this program shows we trust them to know when they can afford to take time off and still support their colleagues, our business, and our customers.

Ultimate Software’s Vivian Maza will host a webcast on The Trust Factor: Do Your Employees Trust You? on August 9 (ET)

Related stories:
How HR can create a culture of trust
Warning signs of a toxic company culture

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