Trust, employee engagement and well-being

We hear a lot about employee engagement today but, without trust between employer and employee, true engagement can only be an aspiration. Without trust, well-being initiatives may be seen as patronising, even manipulative.

Building trust facilitates engagement and commitment. Respect for employees’ well-being is only part of that trust relationship. Where owners and managers are successful in resolving disputes it is invariably because they are trusted. When there is mistrust, resolution is that much more difficult and employees may well seek Trade Union “protection” or use employment law to unsettle you.

So how can owners and directors build trust? Here are some suggestions:

  • Listen. This action is more than simply the transfer of knowledge; it needs to embrace understanding too. It is a skill that is a journey rather than a destination. Curiousity, the 80:20 rule: (hear 80% :speak 20%), and questioning techniques all help (and are covered on our courses). When it comes to trust, active listening is a vital skill.
  • Be honest. This is trickier than it sounds. Are “white lies” permissible? Is a deception okay so long as “only you and I know?” Should we “tell it how it is” or should we put on a positive spin?
  • Be visible. The more we see people the more we trust them. Do you prefer to buy from people whom you know? Employees in turn prefer to work for (and trust) people whom they know. So being visible in the office, on the shopfloor, in your branches or other workplaces helps to build trust. Walk the floor rather than close the door.
  • Respect employees, even if have to work hard to find reasons in particular instances.
  • Share. The extent to which you are comfortable sharing information with employees is an indicator of how much you trust them. In turn, that may also indicate how much they are likely to trust you.
  • Live your values. Whatever the values you espouse, seek to live them. Take a “rain check” from time to time from those who are not threatened by telling you the truth.
  • Actions speak louder than words. In short do as you say. Positive spins are dangerous if you cannot deliver.

If your employees trust you then they are much more likely to engage, irrespective of any initiatives you might also take.

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