How to Build Trust in the Workplace: 5 Proven Ways to Connect with Employees

5 smiling employees sit at a table, learning how to build trust in the workplace.
Trust boosts employee engagement, retention, and company culture. These tips will help you learn how to build trust in the workplace.

Key points:

  • Most successful companies develop trust-based relationships between all organizational levels. 
  • Trust increases employee engagement, productivity, and retention. 
  • Building trust requires empathy, data-driven decisions, the right technology, and other tools and strategies.

Trust is the foundation of building a positive workplace culture. Where there’s trust, there’s improved collaboration, productivity, and morale. Unfortunately, one in three people don’t trust their employer. 

But trust can be a vague term. After all, what does it mean to trust someone in the workplace? And why does it matter?

While workplace trust can be a tough concept to pin down, these tips can help you build it in your company.

Why is it important to build trust in the workplace?

It’s important to build trust because it impacts every level of your organization. From leadership and upper management to entry-level positions, teams that build trust-based relationships have higher communication and collaboration skills. As a result, they’re able to delegate work and achieve financial success more easily. 

According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, highly trusted companies see:

  • 50% higher productivity 
  • 13% fewer sick days
  • 76% more engagement
  • 40% less burnout
  • 74% less stress

Trust also plays an important role in employee retention. Compared with employees at low-trust companies, 50% more employees at high-trust organizations plan to stay with their employer over the next year. 

How to build mutual respect and trust in the workplace

Trusting your employees, and gaining their trust in return, isn’t always easy, especially when things like client satisfaction and sales are on the line. However, teammates should be able to rely on each team member for work-related projects. These tips can help you build a culture of trust in your workplace. 

Learn what trust means to your employees

Before you can begin cultivating trust, you need to understand how your employees define it. Trust means different things to different people. How you establish and strengthen trust with one employee may be different from how you build trust with another.

For instance, each employee has their own personal experience with building trust. All else being equal, gaining the trust of someone who’s had their trust betrayed will be more difficult than gaining the trust of someone who hasn’t. It’s important to understand these differences before taking action. 

To gauge trust levels in your workplace, ask your employees questions like:

  • Do you feel trusted to get your work done?
  • Are your opinions valued by your teammates and managers?
  • Do you have the freedom to make your own decisions?
  • Are you treated with respect?

Answer these questions yourself and see if your responses match your employees’ answers.

Build trust-based relationships on authenticity, logic, and empathy

Just as trust can vary from person to person, it can also vary by situation. This can make it incredibly challenging to nurture. Regardless of the exact circumstances, some best practices can help you build high-trust relationships at work.

Be authentic about your values

Your values drive your company. You inspire trust by acting on those values and emphasizing them in day-to-day operations. For example, one of your company values might be collaboration. If you intentionally gather employee ideas and give them serious consideration, you make it clear that you respect teamwork. 

But if you don’t encourage employees to share ideas, this value can feel inauthentic. When this happens, your employees’ trust in you and your values may falter. 

Use logic to reach your conclusions

Likewise, using logic to make decisions can also impact your trustworthiness. When you make a decision without any explanation, some employees may feel that your actions were driven by personal or selfish reasons. 

However, when you make a decision based on unbiased data, you have information that supports your actions. Explaining your thought process and sharing these metrics with your employees improves transparency and boosts trust as a result.

Practice empathy

When you create a culture of empathy and understanding, employees are more comfortable sharing concerns and achievements with their teammates and managers. Bringing this human element to the workplace can help your employees connect with each other and build trust on multiple levels.

Acknowledge people’s emotions

According to one study, the best way to boost trust is by acknowledging someone’s emotions. Simply saying something like, “You seem a little off today. Is everything okay?” can help you form deeper connections. 

Why? Because acknowledging someone else’s emotions takes effort. In many cases, people will avoid getting involved. When you make the effort, you tell that person that you care about them and are willing to take the time to listen and offer support if needed. This helps to create emotional trust. Acknowledging negative emotions actually boosts trust more than acknowledging positive emotions because negative emotions tend to take more time, attention, and effort. 

Acknowledging an employee’s emotions usually happens in the moment. It’s often casual and unplanned. However, you may want to implement daily meetings at the team or departmental levels. These meetings will give you and your managers the opportunity to check in with employees and encourage personal conversations. 

Simply taking the time to connect goes a long way in creating meaningful bonds among teammates. Keep in mind that one-on-one meetings are often best to discuss specific or serious struggles.

Believe in your people

Trust is a two-way street. You want your employees to trust you, but you also need to trust them. This can be challenging since employees often come with a certain amount of risks and liabilities. And while that’s true, they’re also an essential part of any company. If they’re treated as a risk, they won’t feel trusted or valued.  

Striking a balance is key. First, recognize your responsibilities and your employees’ rights. Your employee handbook is a great place to do this. Then, build on those principles to inspire trust in your workplace. You can:

  • Celebrate and recognize wins 
  • Invest in employee growth and professional development
  • Provide the right tools and programs
  • Offer valuable feedback and constructive criticism 

In short, trust your employees to do their work. Some of them may betray that trust, but when you believe in your employees, you’ll inspire them to perform well.

Using technology to build employee trust in the remote workplace

Trust isn’t something you can build in one day. It takes time and effort. Luckily, there are some ways you can simplify the process. Technology is one of them. HR software helps you connect employees to your company and build trust. 

For one thing, HR software gives your employees the ability to manage their own data. They can update their personal information, request time off, enroll in benefits, and more. Giving them the ability to take action for themselves shows that you trust them. 

HR software also improves transparency. Employees can view their pay details, internal job listings, and company policies. When employees have a clear line of sight to important information like this, they’re able to better understand internal decision-making processes and performance metrics. This can reduce feelings of unfair treatment and establish mutual trust overall.

Technology is especially helpful in today’s work environment. It can be difficult to cultivate trust in a remote world. An all-in-one HR solution like SentricHR helps you bring your employees together on one platform no matter where they are.  You can check in with employees, share your company values, and let employees manage their own information. You can even share achievements and acknowledgments to recognize employees for their hard work. 

If you want to boost engagement, transparency, and trust in your workplace, speak with one of our product experts today!

Blog content provided in part by Sentric’s online HR Support Center. For more information, please reach out to our sales team.


The Sentric Team

The Sentric Team

At Sentric, we help businesses make people management easier with industry-leading technology and standout support.

Sentric HR & Payroll Insights

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