Are your employees questioning the company’s direction? Are they seemingly more withdrawn and less dedicated to your organization’s mission? Are they less communicative?
These warning signs could indicate a lack of trust within your organization, an emerging trend in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
A major factor fueling overall mistrust by employees is the feeling of unease over returning to the workplace. According to data collected in August 2020 as part of the Edelman Trust Barometer, only 50% of employees feel comfortable that their office space is “safe to return.”
Employees want multiple safety precautions to make them feel more comfortable, specifically “mandatory use of masks” (53%), “strict social distancing” (47%), and “reduced occupancy in the workplace” (42%). But they aren’t confident in their employer’s ability to provide it.
The study also revealed that only 46% of U.S. employees believe employers are “doing well or very well” when it comes to keeping them safe. And only 29% believe their CEOs are doing an outstanding job meeting the demands placed on them by the pandemic.
3 Ways to Foster and Restore Trust
Trust is essential to the employee/employer relationship. Aside from meeting—and exceeding—safety expectations, there are ways you can help repair and build trust in our post-pandemic normal.
Be Truthful and Transparent
The speed and unpredictability of change brought upon by the pandemic caused many people to question their financial security as well as their physical safety. Your employees may be wondering about the future of their jobs, even if they don’t ask outright.
It is important to communicate openly and honestly with your employees about the current health and future goals of the company; otherwise rumors will circulate, and mistrust will fester. Share as much insight as you can—like financial results, performance metrics, and notes from executive meetings.
Be prepared to deliver good news with the bad. Transparency will ultimately sustain trust.
Aside from protecting them from physical harm, it is important that employers attend to their employees’ mental health. According to an August 2020 survey from FlexJobs and Mental Health America, 75% of employees reported experiencing burnout with 40% attributing it to the pandemic. The stress of financial uncertainty and remote work has taken a toll.
Support your employees by first acknowledging that burnout is real and then taking steps to nurture their well-being. Tactics include setting clear expectations around a healthy work-life balance, establishing boundaries, and encouraging time off to recharge.
Accountability is the key to building trust. That means remaining true to your word. During times of crisis, the good and bad are often exposed. At the start of the pandemic organizations were forced to make difficult decisions within a short period of time. Restrictions and requirements changed daily, if not hourly, and keeping up was a struggle.
By swiftly acknowledging your mistakes and doing your best to correct them, you pave the way for a trustworthy and fruitful relationship.