More than 1.9 million Texans filed for unemployment and underemployment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. For many of those workers, unemployment came suddenly as their employers struggled to navigate constantly changing safety requirements and state regulations.
High levels of change cause people to feel threatened. When combined with a pandemic and subsequent layoffs, many employees may struggle with trust as they return to work. This isn’t necessarily because an organization or leader has done anything wrong, but because of fear driven by constant change and uncertainty.
As we begin to emerge from shelter-in-place protocols and find a new normal – whatever that may look like – many organizations are rightly focused on recovery strategies. One foundational strategy for leaders needs to be rebuilding and maintaining trust. Without trust, we cannot fully recover.
More Trust, More Profitability
It’s important to understand that establishing a strong foundation of trust with employees can lead to better retention, increased productivity, and increased customer loyalty. It is estimated that it costs seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Employees who have a high level of trust will go above and beyond to meet and exceed customer expectations – creating a loyal customer fan base and a stronger bottom line.
Consistency and communication are the foundation of trust. In other words, your employees should know what to expect each time they interact with you. You can build trust by keeping your commitments, seeking excellence in everyday actions, and being open, honest and straightforward when interacting and communicating with employees.
Is Your Organization Smart or Healthy?
In his book The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni discussed the characteristics of a SMART organization: Strategy, Marketing, Finance, and Technology.
While Lencioni says that these characteristics are necessary, he also points out that being smart isn’t enough. An organization needs to be both smart and healthy. A healthy organization has:
- Minimal Politics
- Minimal Confusion
- High Morale
- High Productivity
- Low Turnover
In other words, organizations that are smart and healthy have built trust through consistency and communication. Their employees trust that leadership is making the best possible decisions for a given situation. When you have a healthy organization, everything is amplified in a positive way. Strategies work better, marketing is more effective, technology is more proficient and integrated.
Three Steps to Build Trust
Building trust doesn’t require employee retreats, long meetings, or the dreaded “trust fall” exercise. Instead, work on building trust with employees through three strategies:
Help team members find similarities and develop an appreciation of differences. The DiSC personal profile and DiSC Agile EQ assessments can help employees understand how they’re alike, and why their differences complement one another.
Show sincere appreciation & recognition. A recent study found that trust is vital to both profitability and the customer experience. It comes as no surprise that employees are more likely to trust leaders who appreciate them and treat them with respect. Showing appreciation doesn’t mean lavishing praise on your team for every action. Instead, take time to highlight each employee’s accomplishments in a way that is most meaningful to them.
Survey your employees to determine their level of engagement and passion. The bottom line is this: engaged employees produce better results. Our employee passion survey can help you assess employee engagement and company culture, and determine next steps to build trust and improve communication.
Whether your organization is working from home, waiting to reopen, or has been open throughout this pandemic, it’s vital that we as leaders focus on foundational strategies to ensure our teams remain healthy. By focusing on health first, we can ensure our teams can safely weather any adjustments to come.