As an employer, or manager, you might ask yourself ‘why is it important to build trust within my organisation?’
Trust is a vital element in any relationship, and the workplace is no exception. If you are able to establish trust within an organisation, and foster a culture which encourages open communication and transparency, the benefits can be far reaching. However, trust is a hard thing to build and extremely easy to lose.
This article outlines the steps you can take to create and maintain a good level of trust within your workplace. It explores the positive impact it can have with specific reference to whistleblowing and speak-up culture.
What steps can you take to build trust?
The first, fundamental step towards creating a culture of trust and transparency in your business is through policy.
It is essential that you demonstrate to your employees and prospective candidates that you have a definitive commitment towards an ethical working culture.
Having this enshrined in writing, in company policy, displays a willingness to recognise and appreciate the importance of ethical working practice. For example, with regards to speak-up culture, presenting your workers with a whistleblowing policy reassures them that you will treat their concerns with the respect and credence that they deserve. Moreover, being able to demonstrate there is an effective and confidential process to deal with their concerns is an extremely strong basis upon which you can build trust.
However, trust can be quickly eroded if those promises are not seen as being actioned.
Once that transparency has been encouraged, it must be respected, and accountability must come into play.
Although 92% of leaders are likely to act on Whistleblowing reports to make positive change, 42% of employees believe that no action will be taken. So, it is crucial that employees’ trust extends to the company’s willingness and ability to investigate and take appropriate action against reported wrongdoing.
In order to maintain the levels of trust you have built, your dedication to fair treatment and accountability has to be demonstrated.
If you don’t walk the walk, then any speakup process becomes meaningless…
How can this benefit your business?
If your leadership or management team are seen to be living the positive values that are integral to your company, then your team are more likely to replicate those values.
The stronger the presence of trust and the stronger the levels of communication in your organisation, the more likely you are to have a positive working culture.
Demonstrating a commitment to combat wrongdoing, and actively empowering your employees to be instrumental in that process, helps foster an environment within which your team can thrive. Being secure and confident in the fact that their employer is continually taking steps to optimise their working environment can improve your team’s productivity and morale. And if it is clear that everyone is pulling in the same direction, then your employees are more likely to buy into the culture and purpose of your business.
This can also help with the retention of your best team members.
Research by Deloitte shows employees feel more valued when their Senior leadership acts in accordance with the company’s core values and beliefs.
What are the pitfalls of an absence of trust?
If there is a lack of trust in your workplace, and communication is inhibited as a result of this, it is harder to identify facets of your business which need work.
In the instance that someone does speak up, but feel that their experience has been negative, this equally will have repercussions.
When it is seemingly apparent that communicating issues is not worthwhile, this will deter further disclosures from being made. A snowball effect then occurs where a breakdown of trust creates more distrust, until your employees become reluctant to communicate both positive and negative issues to you.
Transparency helps you make the necessary changes and actions to optimise your organisation’s practices, improving your reputation internally to employees, and externally to prospects.
External providers can support you in building trust
By outsourcing certain elements of your processes, specifically speak-up or whistleblowing procedures, you can take a fast route to building these high levels of trust.
Providers such as Safecall are experts in handling reports of wrongdoing and investigating workplace concerns – this expertise carries with it an inbuilt level of trustworthiness.
By utilising an independent whistleblowing services provider, and communicating that to your staff, you demonstrate a commitment to fair treatment and impartiality.
This is a perfect example of walking the walk. Recognising the importance of responding to suspected wrongdoing, and taking affirmative action to ensure such concerns are handled with impartiality and effectiveness by the right people, is a great way to show your dedication to a positive corporate culture.
Overall, establishing and maintaining trust helps improve workplace morale and productivity, and safeguards your business reputation and employee wellbeing. It is crucial that your employees are not only aware of policy in place to protect them, but see such policy being actioned.
Working relationships are at their best when trust is present, whether that be within a team, or between an employee and senior leadership. You are more likely to co-operate, collaborate and thrive in a working environment which supports its employees and actively encourages the stamping out of wrongdoing.
Openness, transparency and accountability all contribute to the facilitation of a positive corporate culture and is vital that you take the right steps to increase employee confidence in your organisation.
Whether it be through policy, internal communication of values, or the utilisation of external expertise, building trust is central to this.
About Safecall Ltd
Safecall is an outsourced whistleblowing hotline provider to businesses and organisations around the world.
For over 20 years we have been providing a specialist and independent service that helps to protect business and keep employees safe.
We have a people first ethos, with all our call handlers having first-hand experience of the issues reported. We pride ourselves on our style, which is conversational and empathic. None of our calls are scripted and we are experts at taking high quality reports.
Safecall operates from a UK call centre, 24 hours a day, 7 days per week all year round. Serving businesses in the UK, Europe and over 150 countries around the globe, conversing in over 170 different languages.
We help businesses and organisations who want to tackle a variety of whistleblowing issues including potential racism, sexism, fraud, discrimination, bribery, health and safety violations, modern slavery, bullying, and violence in the workplace.
We also offer highly skilled investigations training and bespoke support that utilises our expertise.
We are proud to be a Law Debenture company. Law Debenture was founded in 1889 and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. It is recognised globally for its expertise in longstanding investment trusts and is a leading provider of independent governance and transactional support services. Clients include large corporates, law firms, banks or funds, private equity, SMEs, hedge funds, start-ups, and private clients.
 Safecall HR Whistleblowing Survey 2023
 (Source: Ethics Resource Center, 2013 National Business Ethics Survey)