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Why Is Trust So Important for Employee Engagement?

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Some organisations are caught up in the busyness of creating a facade. The public believes that these companies are great places to work at, in part because employees seem happy and work gets done. Those on the inside, however, know the ugly truth. Sure, there are some pay incentives, a nice lunchroom and health benefits; a few perks here and there to create temporary employee satisfaction. But an important element is missing — trust.

Paul Zak, founding director of the Center of Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, has spent years studying employee engagement. He has discovered that a culture of trust has the highest impact on employee engagement. This culture, according to Zak, adds six benefits to the workplace:

  1. Improved productivity
  2. More motivated employees
  3. Better collaboration
  4. Increased company loyalty
  5. Less chronic stress among employees
  6. Overall happiness

The benefits of creating a culture of trust, albeit difficult, are clear. The real concern is how to create this lasting environment. Zak purports that the answer lies in how well leaders are able to connect emotionally with employees. Marissa Levin, founder and CEO of Successful Culture International, expands on this point by offering eight solutions for building a culture of trust. The five most critical solutions are summarised below.

From why to how: 5 ways to build a culture of trust

  1. Excellence should be acknowledged and rewarded

Rewards are known to stimulate the pleasure centres of our brains. Therefore, that feeling of overall happiness becomes a part of employees’ psyches. It feels good to know that you are being recognised for your efforts.

Nevertheless, Robert Wiseman, PhD, a professor at Michigan State University, cites Edward E. Lawler, author of Rewarding Excellence, who explained that “strategic success rests on how well the firm’s reward structures support the firm’s strategic intent.” Rewards must therefore align with an organisation’s strategic goals. Furthermore, rewards are rendered ineffective if they are a “one-size-fits-all” solution.

RewardCo’s platform equips organisations with all the necessary tools to create a strategic rewards system. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be defined for individuals and teams, with various types of rewards being disbursed once those KPIs are met. Rewards could be as simple as one employee giving kudos to another for a job well done, or as sophisticated as promotions or gifts. The aim is to create a rewards system that employees will appreciate.

2. Equip employees with a sense of purpose

Mercer, a company committed to improving the workplace, conducted research that was used to compile the 2018 Global Talent Trends Study. The results showed that employees strongly desire to accomplish meaningful work. For them to feel satisfied with it, their work should make a difference. It should challenge their minds, without being excessively challenging to the point where it becomes a burden, while allowing them to change lives.

Aligning rewards and KPIs with a company’s vision built on meaningful purpose makes this objective possible, and it can be done using RewardCo. The platform allows users to create an organisational context which frames the company’s vision and the specific goals and KPIs associated with it. Employees would have a constant reminder of the organisation’s purpose, and how they fit into it.

3. Let employees choose their preferred work style

Micromanagers are leaders who rule with an iron fist. However, employees don’t respond well to this type of leaders. Instead, they want the freedom to complete their tasks without feeling unnecessary pressure. Leaders should trust their employees to produce quality work within deadlines. Ruling with an iron fist portrays the opposite.

4. Encourage communication and transparency

Employees generally want two communication-related things. Firstly, they want to feel as though their voices matter. There should be opportunities for them to share their opinions and express their concerns. They want their leaders to trust that what they say will positively impact the organisation. Secondly, employees want their leaders to clearly communicate about what is expected from them, and how well they’re doing. Ambiguity only brings confusion and frustration.

Kristina Martic, who specialises in Digital Marketing and Employer Branding, explains that poor communication reduces employee engagement. She suggests that effective leadership communication involves:

  1. Being transparent
  2. Being specific
  3. Facilitating two-way communication
  4. Giving feedback
  5. Making information easy to access
  6. Measuring communication efforts to determine the medium employees prefer

Thankfully, RewardCo offers a useful solution. The platform has a social element, called VOX, that allows employees to engage with each other and with their managers. Furthermore, managers can use the email system to communicate internally with employees, and externally with partners and suppliers. The documents module also allows managers to upload relevant documents that keep everyone informed.

5. Build strong relationships with your employees

Arguably the most important element of building trust, leaders should build strong relationships with their teams. Employees expect their leaders to have integrity, demonstrate fairness, and show concern for their overall well-being. As employers, you should always demonstrate that you care, and trust will grow within your firm.

Invest into building trust

Trust is an often underused intangible asset. Investing time and resources into building a culture of trust leads to six positive outcomes that contribute to organisational growth. A RewardCo account is one resource investment your organisation should make. Learn more by clicking here.

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