What is a High-Trust Culture?

Most employers worry about how to keep good employees on board and how to recruit employees who will stay long term. One idea that can help with both of those items is showing employees they’re trusted. Employees who feel trusted are more likely to feel empowered and more likely to feel satisfied with their job. Trust is a major factor in employee engagement, and therefore in employee retention as well.

Thankfully, there are a lot of ways employers can show employees they’re trusted. It can start by working on making the employer culture one that shows trust—often known as a “high trust” culture.

Ways to Show Employees They Are Trusted

Here are some ways to show employees they’re trusted:

  • Empower employees to make decisions on their own without the need to get permission for everything. (Naturally there may be limits, but often limits can be expanded over time).
  • Solicit feedback from employees and try to take action on it as often as possible. Also, get feedback on what direction the employee would like his or her job to take over time.
  • Give challenging projects to employees. This shows you have faith they will rise to the occasion.
  • Allow employees to complete their work in whatever way they deem best. In other words, don’t micromanage. (From an HR perspective, this may mean training managers to not micromanage).
  • Communicate often so employees don’t feel like they’re left out of important matters. Train managers to communicate regularly.
  • Ensure that employees know what is expected of them. Communicate clearly about goals and expectations and how to meet them.
  • Provide training opportunities for all levels of employees, giving them skills to grow into new roles and to better utilize their true capabilities.
  • Ensure that policies and benefits are set up to foster respect among employees and that the policies show employees that they’re valued and respected. The policies should be fair and should be implemented consistently.
  • Encourage collaboration to build trust among employees.
  • Implement ways for employees to share knowledge amongst one another.
  • Show employees that their efforts are recognized and appreciated. This can be as simple as thanking them for their work.
  • Ask for and pay attention to employees’ personal development and long-term goals. When you help employees reach their own goals, they know they’re valued.
  • Work with the highest levels in the organization to ensure these behaviors are modeled from the leadership on down.
  • Pay attention when there are complaints and take them all seriously. Ensure employees know they can come to you and their concerns will be heard and addressed. Follow up as much as is needed so employees know they’re being heard.
  • Show employees they’re valued by investing in them; provide benefits that invest in their development and well-being.
  • Show employees they’re trusted by allowing them to work in flexible ways. This may mean off-site, or during flexible hours, for example.

Many of these items will involve HR teams coaching and training managers to interact with their employees differently to foster a culture of trust. It may also mean HR teams work with the greater organization to improve employee development or to assess what benefits are offered. These actions can go a long way toward developing and maintaining a high-trust culture.


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