Build trust in the workplace

9 Tips to Build Trust in the Workplace

Lynsey May Sutherland
Lynsey Sutherland
April 24, 2024
5 min read

What is Workplace Trust?

A workplace without trust can never live up to its full potential. For team members and leaders to perform at their best, they need to know they are free to work, experiment and innovate in a trusting environment.

A workplace with good levels of trust offers a culture of honesty, openness, mutual respect and psychological safety. People will be able to say what they mean, admit to mistakes and experiment without fear of failure. 

Why is Workplace Trust Important?

Creating a company with a trustworthy culture has some huge benefits. 

A study by Paul J. Zak, the founding director of the Centre for Neuroeconomics Studies, found that people at high-trust companies reported 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work and 50% higher productivity at work than those in low-trust companies. Raising trust levels is a great place to start if you want a high-performing team. 

Trust improves engagement in the workplace
Building trust helps improve engagement in the workplace

How to Create a Culture of Trust in the Workplace

You can improve feelings of trust in the workplace in various ways. Here are a few of our favourites.  

1. Active Listening

Few things are as impactful as simply learning to be a good listener. So much of being a leader centres around communication, and it’s essential that you can inspire and encourage through your words. 

You also need to be an active listener to ensure employees can participate in two-way conversations where their voices are heard, as this is one of the fastest ways to foster a positive atmosphere. 

2. Treat Your Employees Like People

It can be very tempting only to acknowledge positive emotions and experiences, but if you want to establish trust in your workplace, you must be prepared to talk about the bad and the good. 

What’s more, the Harvard Business Review, suggests being sure to discuss the emotions around an incident rather than the incident itself. For example, rather than saying, ‘it seems like your presentation didn’t go down well’, try ‘you seem unhappy or stressed.’ This puts the emphasis where it should be, on the value of the individual and not their performance. 

3. Ask for Employee Feedback

To create feelings of trust, you need to be open to hearing the honest feedback of your employees. It can be tricky to open up completely honest lines of communication, especially if you’re starting to a low trust level.

In the early stages, consider anonymous surveys, allowing you to get to the heart of matters without fear. Once you have proven your willingness to listen, you can move on to one-on-one conversations. 

Make it clear that when honest opinions are solicited, there will be no ramifications. If people don’t feel they can share what they think, no relationship will be built on trust.

4. Take Action After Feedback 

This is a crucial second step when it comes to asking for feedback. Soliciting feedback shows your employees that you want to hear what they have to say. Acting on it shows that you care about what they are saying. 

Look at all the information you receive through employee surveys or check-ins to find the weak spots or common causes for concern and act quickly to fix what you can. 

If you find areas with no easy fix, be open about it. Share your findings and your plan of action – admitting that you can’t fix a problem right away shows employees that you are paying attention and are willing to admit to vulnerabilities. 

5. Create a Culture of Recognition

If you know that your employees are skilled and committed, you should ensure they are too. Deloitte found that companies that prioritise recognition in the workplace and help people find meaning in their work are most likely to thrive in the future

Recognising employee efforts and showing appreciation is an excellent way to let employees know they are valued and trusted team members. And the more often you do it, the greater the effect. Our recognition software makes it quick and easy to drop in and share meaningful moments with colleagues.

6. Empower Employees

If you want your employees to trust you, show them the trust you’re willing to put in them. Empower your employees by offering autonomy and avoiding the temptation to micromanage. 

It’s also essential to offer frequent opportunities for professional growth and encourage employee development. Show someone that you’re willing to invest in them, and they’re far more likely to trust your motives and intentions. 

7. Empathetic Leadership

Showing up as yourself is a great way to let your employees know that they’re dealing with someone who has integrity. This is a natural indicator that they can be honest about their own opinions and feelings.

There’s much to be said for being an empathetic leader, too. These leaders are capable of sitting back and doing their best to understand someone else’s point of view – all of which can work wonders. 

8. Be Consistent

Perhaps the hardest thing about building trust is that it can be a long and slow process – and you have to be consistent in your approach. It’s no good to stick to your word occasionally. You have to do it all of the time. 

This also means being careful not to make promises you can’t fulfil and avoiding saying what you think employees want to hear. Integrity comes first; the more honest you are, the easier it will be to remain consistent. 

9. Invest in Team Building

Teams that know each other well are more likely to understand and trust each other. Introduce team building exercises during work time and ample opportunities to socialise outside of hours – although make it clear that those aren’t compulsory!

Offering opportunities for employees to grow friendships is a great way to build trust between them. This can be everything from away days to ways to chat and connect via communication platforms to remote team-building exercises perfect for people working from home. 

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Mo is an employee recognition and engagement platform that can help leaders improve collaboration and morale, reduce employee churn and drive change. 

Our platform creates a vibrant culture by developing team habits, encouraging people to celebrate success, recognise results and appreciate colleagues. Your complete toolkit for connecting and motivating teams in the new world of work. Book a demo with our team today.

Build Trust: Key Takeaways

  • Trust in the workplace fosters honesty, openness, mutual respect, and psychological safety.
  • High levels of trust lead to reduced stress, increased energy, and higher productivity among employees.
  • Building trust involves active listening, acknowledging a range of emotions, soliciting and acting on honest feedback, showing appreciation, empowering employees, being authentic and consistent, and investing in team-building activities.

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