Recent studies have found that employees are less willing to trust their employers and colleagues than in previous generations. It is significant news considering the far-reaching effects this can have on businesses, and even outside of the workplace. This is why it is vitally important that no matter our rank or title in our work hierarchy, we dedicate ourselves to helping build a culture of trust.

If value a workplace with a culture of trust, there are ways to build that sense of community. Consider these suggestions for steps you can take yourself and employer qualities you can help bring to the table at work.

  1. Set standards. Keep in mind that healthy trust is different from a blank check. Open up to others while maintaining sensible limits, like saying no to forced overtime or destructive gossip.
  2. Commit to giving trust. Trust is indeed a two-way street. By offering trust to your colleagues, you are much more likely to receive their confidence and respect in return.
  3. Your word is your bond. As most of our grandparents told us, it is true that your word is your bond; or at least it should be. All of us make judgments about things, about people. We are much more likely to trust people whose actions align with their speech. Align your actions with your speech. Let your supervisor, as well as the people who report to you that they can count on you when you say you will complete a proposal or follow through on some issue.
  4. Give thanks and express gratitude. Thank the receptionist who wishes you a cheerful good morning. Bring back souvenirs for the office mates who checked your email while you were away on vacation. Keep in mind that even small gestures matter to people. Expressions of gratitude do not need to be expensive or grandiose.
  5. Give credit to others. Most victories are based on team efforts. Show your colleagues that you understand and appreciate the roles that they play in company successes.
  6. Talk to people. Technology may save us a little time and a few steps, but it can also create and reinforce distance and divisions. When possible, stop by someone’s office instead of sending them a text message or email. The conversations will usually take less time, and avoid more misunderstandings than a long email chain.
  7. Value relationships. The quality of our relationships determines the level of trust we will enjoy in the workplace. Treat others with respect and compassion. Be willing to compromise on some inconsequential issues so you can maintain positive office relationships. Also, see “What to Do when Professional Relationships Go Wrong.”

If you are between jobs, here are a few qualities to look for in an employer.

  1. Assess turnover. Trust and employee engagement are closely related, and engaged workers tend to stay at their jobs longer. Ask about the turnover rate when considering a job offer to avoid joining a long line of predecessors with short and miserable stays.
  2. Proceed from the ground up. Trust is part of the job description at each level of any organization. Feeling comfortable with your supervisor and the co-workers that you will interact with daily may be more important than any chat with the CEO.
  3. Encourage innovation. Openness to new ideas is a good sign that team members trust each other. Are suggestions greeted with enthusiasm? Are employees commended for trying to increase quality and save money regardless of whether their proposals need some fine-tuning?
  4. Be fair. Another indication of high levels of trust is a commitment to a just workplace and fair play. Do the same rules and discipline procedures apply to entry-level employees and top management? Are employees empowered to use their own discretion and judgment to complete their assignments?
  5. Reward competence. Naturally, trust thrives when you and your employer believe in your own abilities to perform the job. Employers who provide training and constructive feedback may help you to put thoughts of redundancy behind you and move forward with greater confidence.

The good news is that we can all learn to trust and help build a culture of trust in our workplaces again. Whether it is in your current position, or wherever you find your next position, your actions can help you keep your career on track and become a valued member of any team.


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