Organizations with high levels of trust have more productive workforces, better employee morale, lower employee turnover, and they also perform better financially than their industry peers. But what exactly are the foundations and characteristics of trust? What steps can executives take to build it and to avoid its erosion?
It is universally acknowledged; we hear our most successful leaders espouse its importance all the time – but ‘trust’ in an organization can be infuriatingly intangible, and a slippery thing to quantify indeed. What we do know is that trust is vital to success – while on the other hand distrust can be disastrous; leading to lower levels of employee morale, commitment and productivity. This Idea is designed to help an HR function increase trust within an organization.
Firstly, it is important to see that there are certain characteristics visible in organizations with high levels of trust:
Secondly, we can understand that if trust increases profitability and helps in attracting and keeping talent, then it follows that a lack of trust lowers productivity and increases employee turnover. And yet despite this, it is still a rare commodity in most organizations. Previous research has found that 9 out of every 10 employees have reported experiencing some sort of breach of trust in the workplace on a regular basis.
A detailed best-practice example is given in the full White Paper attached – of the Whole Foods Market, which has been consistently ranked as a high trust organization. Their CEO, John Mackey, points to a number of factors that can help other organizations follow in their footsteps.
It is clear that HR should have a central role in establishing or re-establishing trust throughout an organization. The following mnemonic can be kept in mind when trying to improve trust in an organization:
This White Paper goes on to suggest four practical steps to be taken by the HR function:
These proactive steps can improve trust in the workplace, and hold back the flow of employees leaving an organization.
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