Think Salaries and Benefits Are Your Biggest Costs? Think Again.

What do you think is the biggest expense for your organization? Payroll? Benefits? Materials? David Horsager, CEO of Trust Edge Leadership Institute, would disagree with any of the above. In HR Magazine’s article “Why Trust Matters at Work” by Dori Meinert, he identifies lack of trust as the biggest expense in organizations. Whether it’s a problem in sales, leadership, engagement, whatever, he says it all boils down to trust.

He’s not alone. Many experts cite trust as a major contributor to employee satisfaction and company success. In the Harvard Business Review article, The Neuroscience of Trust, Paul Zak writes that through his research, he’s found that trust, not random perks, makes a meaningful difference in talent retention and performance. Data he and his team collected in 2016 from over 1,000 adults working in the U.S. indicated that those working in companies ranked in the top quartile for “organizational trust” reported being 76% more engaged and 50% more productive than those working in companies in the bottom quartile.

New ideas

How could that be? Look at the generation of new ideas for example. Innovations that improve processes and the bottom line are often born of suggestions from those involved in day-to-day operations. If employees don’t trust leadership, they are less willing to suggest ideas for change. It’s too risky when they don’t expect support. On the other hand, Andrea Howe, founder of The Get Real Project and author, says that trust engenders freedom, and that means more innovation.

Efficiency 

How quickly an organization responds to change in the market is also affected by trust or lack of it, according to Amanda Setili, a strategy consultant and author also quoted in the article. Indecision and the lack of employee willingness to make decisions without first consulting their managers slows things down. One reason for such hesitancy and low self-confidence is lack of trust. If someone suspects they will not receive support or possibly suffer worse consequences if a course of action turns out to be a mistake, they’ll play it safe instead, making sure the decision doesn’t rest with them.

Reporting problems

If employees’ past experience tells them that reported problems are never addressed even when assured they would be, they are less likely to bring up current ones. Instead, problems fester and get worse, perhaps spreading to other areas in the organization.

How to foster trust in the workplace

So, what can you do? Meinert’s article lists the following behaviors, identified by Horsager’s research (see the report “The 2018 Trust Outlook“), as ones that build trust:

  • Clarity – Provide clear organizational goals and how employees/teams contribute to them.
  • Compassion – People respond to those who show empathy and care for more than themselves.
  • Character – Integrity, doing what is right even when it’s difficult, engenders respect and trust.
  • Competency – If leaders are not capable and relevant, they are hard to trust.
  • Commitment – If you provide support your employees can count on, they’ll do the same for you.
  • Connection – Good communication, asking questions, listening, and accessibility inspire trust.
  • Contribution – You need to produce results.
  • Consistency – What you do all the time shapes others’ expectations. That includes both positive and negative behaviors.

How are you doing?

Take a look at yourself and your organization. What areas can use improvement? What are you doing well? Whatever you do to foster greater trust in your organization will not only make it a better place to work, but your efforts will also increase its success.

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Mary van Balen
Mary van Balen
Technical Writer at Delphia Consulting
Mary van Balen is based out of Columbus, Ohio and is a writer for Delphia Consulting. Mary contributes to the Delphia blog on Human Resources issues and Delphia Consulting and Sage product related updates.