As more businesses adopt a hybrid working environment, they need to be mindful of building trust (with both in-person and remote employees), making sure their trust-building strategies are inclusive of their entire workforce. Below are a few suggestions on how to get started.
Ensure the leadership team is on board
The saying that people join companies and leave managers may be true now more than ever. And it’s not surprising. There’s a disconnect in who is responsible for creating trust.
So who owns trust within a business? Quite simply, everyone. Building trust is based on many factors that, just as in personal relationships, need every person to be present. And, like company culture, everyone in the business is responsible.
But to be competitive or even viable in the future, trust must start at the top. Clear messaging cascading from leadership is vital.
If your leaders do not overcommunicate, even a small lack of transparency can lead to doubts and start to destroy trust. Like return to work policies that don’t account for employee safety, lack of outlined career paths, or vaccine mandates that aren’t clearly communicated.
Reinforce remote inclusivity
Employee trust levels are closely correlated to proximity: physical/in office, as well as organisational. A feeling of isolation in hybrid model work is real and can push employees away.
Be objective about overcoming proximity bias so your people aren’t left feeling alone. Take a hard look at what’s being done to minimise remote inequity:
- You can build trust by creating an engaging virtual work culture in which diversity and inclusion are proactive.
- Be mindful of eroding trust by not giving empathic feedback or by pressuring employees to work in person.
- You can improve trust by encouraging remote employees to participate in upskilling
Proximity bias is quicksand: Managers and employees may not realise it’s happening until it’s too late. It’s human nature to form bonds with people you interact with on a daily basis. While talking about sports or kids over coffee, we form connections. Heading a mixed-model workforce (some employees in person full time, some hybrid, and some fully remote), which 33% of executives say they now do, presents its own set of challenges.
Trust is the glue that binds people to your business, making it critical to business culture. Just like brand and reputation, amplifying trust through transparency is something all members of a business must be committed to. However, 41% of leaders cite culture as a top challenge in building trust.
Let your leaders amplify the trust message and take the steps needed to improve it. However, when things go wrong in a business and trust falls, you’ve got to take ownership and say, “We’ve screwed up, here’s how to fix it, and these are the changes we’re implementing to make things better.” If everyone is informed about the business they’re delivering, the trust volume grows. That includes meaningful feedback, delivered with a real desire to help. It’s invaluable to building trust within a business.