HR Leadership Week, Learning & Development, Recruiting

Weathering the Storm: How to Leverage Shared Values and Consistent Communication to Build Trust

Edelman recently released its annual “Trust Barometer” report, which polls more than 32,000 people around the world on trust and stability. Sixty-nine percent of employee respondents said having a societal impact is a strong expectation or deal breaker when considering a job. In other words, people want to know that when they go to work, their efforts serve a broader purpose to society beyond the day-to-day job and growing revenues or profits.

Despite the uncertainty in the marketplace, purpose matters.

Finding a purpose or a set of shared values an entire organization can rally behind takes time. A meaningful purpose shouldn’t be something on a letterhead or a corporate office wall. It should be centered on the impact your organization has on the world and resonate with employees, customers, and other stakeholders.

Company actions, volunteer activities, product decisions, and philanthropic activities should all tie into this purpose. Shared values should start with what types of values are critical for your business to succeed and what set of shared behaviors will reinforce that success. 

The best shared values aren’t aspirational but rather reflective of the culture and environment that already exists. They should be reinforced consistently across the talent spectrum: how you hire, how you promote, whom you recognize, and how decisions get made. The language of your values must also be kept alive every day by leadership in regular formal and informal communications.

Inconsistent messaging from leadership tends to erode trust, and employers already have a trust problem. In a recent DDI study of nearly 14,000 leaders and hundreds of organizations, only 32% of employees “trust senior leaders at my organization to do what is right,” and only 46% trust their direct manager.

If the trust gap continues to grow, employees may end up feeling disconnected from their organization, performing less effectively, being less likely to be as productive, and being more likely to leave. The best way to close that gap is through constant communication.

With that in mind, consider providing regular business updates on strategy, plans, and progress. Hearing from leaders is important—regular monthly sessions with the CEO or other senior leaders to provide updates, responding promptly to questions, and celebrating successes can all help. Additionally, addressing existing problems and the plans to fix them will go far toward engaging your team.

In fact, you might consider using more modern communication methods such as live presentations on Zoom so more employees can attend or original short-form video clips with updates from leaders on new programs (similar to what you would see on social media). These methods make updates to your organization more consumable and entertaining, which can increase their reach and impact.

In addition to enhancing your communication approach and frequency, leverage your company’s values and the actions you’re taking to do good in the community to help engender trust. That includes how the company tackles social issues, when it tackles these issues, and when it doesn’t. Infuse purpose-driven messaging into your regular business updates, and leverage your culture and values as a strength.

Jesse Meschuk is a career and HR expert and a Senior Advisor with Exequity. Meschuk has more than 20 years of consulting and HR experience and has worked across a wide variety of industries, including technology, entertainment, gaming, retail, hospitality, and sports. Meschuk’s work has spanned across the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

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