When your teams communicate more effectively, they deliver better work at a faster rate, which in turn increases your revenue. Additionally, as trust is strongly correlated with employee happiness you’ll experience less turnover and benefit from an increasing pool of qualified internal job candidates.

To build a greater sense of trust in your business we recommend:

  1. Showing appreciation
  2. Being honest and transparent
  3. Creating an inclusive culture
  4. Avoiding micromanagement
  5. Protecting your employees’ wellbeing
  6. Being patient
  7. Providing mentorship
  8. Improving non-verbal communication
  9. Not being afraid of admitting mistakes

In this article, you’ll learn why trust in the workplace is important — the different types of trust in the workplace, the nine steps that build trust, and how to measure trust in your organisation.

Employees looking over their paperwork together.

Why is trust a must in the workplace?

Trust is at the heart of every thriving company culture. Without it, employees are likely disengaged and demotivated. However, trust in the workplace has more than just cultural benefits.

Employees who rate their organisation as trustworthy are on average:1

  • 74% less stressed
  • 50% more productive
  • 76% more engaged
  • Take 13% fewer sick days
  • 40% less likely to burn out

When people trust their managers and colleagues they feel psychologically safe. Consequently, they’re proud of where they work and are willing to put in the extra effort when necessary. Not to mention, they’re also likely to stick around for longer because they’re happier — which benefits your retention rate too.

To learn more about how you can increase employee happiness and wellbeing in your organisation, download our helpful guide

Types of trust at work

While trust is a central and fundamental element in all relationships, in the workplace, there are two significant types, practical trust and emotional trust.

Practical trust

It’s sometimes easier to think of practical trust as everyday simple honesty. For example, you deliver projects when you say you will, you show up on time, and you do the job well. Obviously to earn this type of trust you need to be a consistent and diligent team member.

Emotional trust

So, this type of trust involves — to some degree, emotional intelligence. When someone emotionally trusts you, they know you have their back and treat them with respect. Often, people think emotional intelligence is an innate skill, which in some cases is true. However, fortunately, it can also be learned.

Manager talking openly during coffee with her employee

Creating a culture of honesty takes effort. And as much as organisations like to think they have an open door policy, in reality, their employees may feel very differently. It’s quite easy to deprioritise building trust when you have pressing business matters at hand. However, neglecting this fundamental aspect of employee experience will likely lead to worse business outcomes and lower rates of job satisfaction.

How to build trust in the workplace: nine strategies

Building trust in the workplace doesn’t happen overnight. But to get you started, here are nine effective strategies for building a trusting relationship between you and your employees.

1. Consistently show appreciation

Writing a thank you note is a small but effective way of acknowledging your employees’ efforts. In fact, this simple gesture was one of the reasons we included reward and recognition functionality in our app.

Wouldn’t it be amazing, if every employee could send personalised recognition to anyone they wanted — regardless of where they were working? Well with Perkbox they can. Not only that, but they can also tie each recognition they send to company values, for example, trust or kindness.

To find out how Perkbox can help you appreciate your employees more, download our brochure

2. Be honest and transparent

You can practise honesty and transparency in many ways. For example, in town halls, stand-ups, and quarterly meetings. That said, if you have a suite of communication tools it’s much easier to keep your teams up to date. Regardless though, Perkbox seamlessly integrates with your systems and gives you a range of enhanced communication features that are accessible from an easy-to-use app. Using the custom cards feature, you can tell your employees about new joiners, upcoming social events, and much more.

If you want to learn how Perkbox can help improve communication between your teams, download our brochure

3. Build an inclusive culture

A common thread that runs through the culture of highly trustful organisations is that they place an emphasis on appreciation and collaboration. This in turn demonstrates that they value all of their employees’ strengths and contributions. So focusing on initiatives that drive forward accessibility, equal pay, and flexibility shows your business is a safe and welcoming space for every employee.

4. Avoid micromanagement

While micromanaging is one of the most telling signs you don’t trust your employees, you could be doing it unintentionally. After all, everyone is different and one person’s helpful could be another’s overbearing. According to Forbes, writing out your job description is an effective way to self-screen for micromanaging behaviours.2 If you’re a manager or team leader, how much time do you actually dedicate to mentoring? If you’re prioritising other tasks that aren't your responsibility instead of supporting direct reports, you need to address this imbalance.

An HR team meeting to create an employee wellbeing strategy

5. Protect your employees' wellbeing

By protecting your employees' wellbeing you’re looking out for their health. And one way of strengthening their mental and physical resilience is giving them resources to practise self-care. The benefits of this are two-fold, firstly it shows you care about their welfare. Secondly, it demonstrates you trust them to invest time in their health. Perkbox contains guided meditations and techniques for managing stress, in addition to a range of on-demand workouts. So practising self-care is both convenient and accessible.

6. Be patient

If you’re just starting to develop initiatives that prioritise trust, don’t be too hard on yourself. It's a difficult process. Don’t forget that you’re changing an entire corporate mindset. Or, an established way of doing things. For these reasons, we recommend breaking down what you need to do in manageable steps. This also benefits your employees, as they will need time to adjust. During this transitional period, communication is key, so you must gather responses from different teams. Of course, not all of it will be positive feedback and you will encounter some resistance. Just remember it’s all part of the process.

7. Provide mentorship

When we talk about mentorship we mean constructively coaching your employees –  instead of acting like a traditional manager. Now, obviously, there are some occasions when a more disciplinary approach is necessary. However, if a direct report isn’t meeting targets, giving them training and encouragement is more effective than casting an overly critical eye over their work. And it’s this lack of judgement that helps foster a relationship of trust. When they see you as their ally they’re more likely to ask for support and improve.

One employee mentoring another as part of a collaborative team.

8. Improve your nonverbal communication

Significant soft skills, such as using positive body language contribute to building trust. For instance, when a colleague is presenting, resist the urge to read your emails. Instead, simply look in their direction or towards the presentation screen. These actions demonstrate that their presentation is your priority as your attention is on them, not your phone or laptop. Moreover, practising these soft skills encourages others to behave in a similar way, which fosters a healthy and happy work environment.

9. Don’t be afraid of admitting your mistakes

Employees respect managers when they’re open and honest about bad news. Be it missed targets or letting a member of the team go. On the contrary, avoiding these tricky conversations encourages gossip and gives rise to toxicity in the workplace. Additionally, admitting when you or your organisation got it wrong, is not only humbling but also highlights your trustworthiness as a leader. When your team know you don’t keep difficult information from them, they respect you and are willing to go the extra mile.

HR managers discussing how to build trust at work

How to measure trust at work

Measuring trust can be challenging as you need to ask very specific questions to gain valid insight. For this reason, we recommend adding trust-related questions to engagement surveys.

Trust questions include:

  • Do you understand what our core purpose is?
  • Can you rely on our organisation to deliver on its promises?
  • Do you think you’re kept up to date on business news?

By including these questions, you can split the data in many ways, such as between different departments or locations. For example, you can investigate any differences in trust between remote and in-office employees. If remote employees are reporting feeling left out more than in-office colleagues, you may need to work on your internal comms strategy.

Trusting employees smiling together at a team meeting.

Start building a culture of trust today

An organisation that prioritises trust, experiences many benefits, including happy employees and high levels of employee engagement. And while we understand that building trust is challenging, the end results are worth the effort.

Investing in an all-one-employee experience solution can make this process easier because it targets multiple trust elements. For instance, if it has enhanced communication features, it can deploy global news updates, which supports transparency.

Additionally, digital reward and recognition functionality encourages peer-to-peer appreciation, both inside and outside the office. So all of your teams, no matter where they’re working feel included and valued.

Learn how to increase trust in your organisation with Perkbox


How do you build trust at work?

Building trust can be challenging as there are so many factors to consider. That said critical components of the process include strengthening mutual respect and mutual trust. You could begin this by checking that guidelines for employee feedback outline how to deliver constructive criticism. It's also a good idea to encourage employees to seek professional development or mentorship opportunities in your business.

2. What behaviours build trust?

3. What breaks trust in the workplace?

Create a culture of communication with our reward and recognition guide

We've put together this guide to give you the tools you need to plan, create and review your very own reward and recognition strategy.

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