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The Trust Factor: 8 Proven Methods for Building Reliable Teams for Peak Performance

Did you know that 24 percent of employees leave a company because they don’t feel trusted?

When you give a task to a colleague or employee, are you confident they’ll do the job well?

Regardless of the task, answering “yes” to this question demonstrates trust in your workplace—something many HR managers strive to build in their organization. 

Maintaining employee confidence is pivotal to business success and opens the door to stronger communication, better crisis management, and a happier workplace. 

Unsure how to get started? Discover seven ways to build trust in your team.

Why is employee trust important? 

Trust is a two-way street. If you’ve ever worked in an environment where trust didn’t exist, there’s a good chance the workplace was toxic. Unreliable employees, disorganized work, and uncommunicative colleagues affect trust and integrity. 

High-trust workplace cultures achieve nearly 2x more than competitors–meaning trust is not just about employee relationships; it makes excellent business sense, too.  

As Andrei Vasilescu, Co-Founder and CEO of DontPayFull, says, “It takes time to build trust between you and your staff. It has more to do [with] how you run your business and the company culture you cultivate than just playing nice.”

Let’s explore the connection between employee trust and workplace performance. 

Trust impacts performance

A lack of visibility in the workplace affects leaders’ understanding of what team members are working on and how it fits into the bigger picture. A lack of enthusiasm—or simply doing the bare minimum—can affect employee trust and performance. It’s why 68 percent of employees say that low trust affects their daily efforts. 

Businesses that understand employees’ priorities and preferences flourish. Team members can confidently suggest new ways of working and carrying out their roles to the best of their ability.

Read more: 7 Things Employees Want from Employers

Impacts on mental health 

Trust amongst your workforce directly affects employee well-being. This is closely linked to resilience; studies show that feeling cared for protects us from stress and promotes resilience. 

Safe and healthy work environments provide the platform for healthy work relationships. Help employees do their job to the best of their ability and manage negative emotions. Given that 44 percent of employees experienced stress at work, supportive managers are vital to helping employees enjoy their work and do their jobs well.

Read more: How to Prioritize Mental Health in the Workplace

Better crisis management 

Everyone makes mistakes. An employee who gives the wrong answer to a customer or leaks sensitive information can make it feel like the world is ending. But trust and honesty play an integral part in finding a solution. 

Workplaces without trust and honesty could lead to employees not owning up to mistakes and hiding the problem–making matters worse. If your team is willing to admit mistakes and trust colleagues to help find a solution, you’ll benefit from better crisis management (and less risk of it happening again.)

How do you build employee trust?

The best workplaces are those where employees feel trusted to do what is expected of them without the constant need for monitoring. 

As Stacey Kane, Business Development Lead at EasyMerchant, says, “The more [employees] feel involved in decision-making, can reach out when they need help or guidance, and are not constantly threatened with punitive measures, the better they perform and are willing to go above and beyond their job responsibilities.”

Here are seven ways to build employee trust and improve employee engagement across your organization

1. Listen to understand 

Just over 8 in 10 employees feel people aren’t heard fairly or equally at their organization. When staff are disengaged, turnover increases, and performance is affected.

EasyMerchant’s Stacey Kane recommends listening more: “Our employees are allowed to express their successes and difficulties during the reflection meeting that we hold twice a month. We also have a dedicated member of our human resources staff who makes herself available should any team member feel the need to discuss a particular work-related issue or concern.” 

Make employees feel valued and listen to understand rather than respond. 

That might mean:

  • Showing genuine interest by keeping eye contact
  • Noticing (and using) non-verbal cues, such as nodding and smiling
  • Paraphrasing and reflecting back on what has been said—for example, “It sounds like you are looking forward to your promotion”
  • Asking open-ended questions to encourage further responses, such as “How do you feel about our new processes?” or “How do you think we can improve?” 

Create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing problems. They’ll come to you for help and support when it’s needed–believing they are worth your time and, therefore, increasing employee trust. 

“You need to create a safe environment for people to speak up and voice issues or [give] praise,”  Celine Grey, Director of Sales Enablement, Normative, says. “Employees can help each other, ask for help, [and] reach out to different people in the organization.”

Read more: Proven Tactics for Exceptional Leadership

2. Have an open-door policy

As much as we try to mitigate conflict, an astonishing 97 percent of employees have experienced tension in the workplace. An open-door policy tackles conflict without it escalating and causing further friction. 

Employees who don’t have consistent access to a manager who’s willing to listen can feel unsupported and restricted in their decision-making. Unrealistic targets or working hours, for example, can create real concerns. Managers who overload employees with tasks and unrealistic expectations run the risk of the employees walking out. 

An open-door policy will give employees a safe space to discuss issues related to their employment promptly and respectfully–without fear of consequences.

The most important thing to remember is that an open-door policy isn’t just about leaving the door ajar. It’s a management technique that helps employees know you’re approachable, accessible, and willing to listen. 

3. Offer a safe environment to test new ideas

A quarter of employees don’t trust their employer to create a safe work environment. In fact, stifling workplaces prohibit employees from brainstorming new ways of working. 

Create an environment where anyone can be creative. Encourage employees to think outside the box. After all, an open mind is a valuable asset to any organization. 

“In our workplace, we created a psychologically safe environment and culture,” says Sam Nabil, CEO of Naya Clinics. “Psychological safety is important to establish trust. 

“When employees feel they are in a psychologically safe environment, they’ll trust their team enough to become vulnerable around them. They’re also empowered to share their authentic selves and their ideas. They’re confident that the workplace is a judgment-free zone, making it as functional as possible.” 

4. Use role modeling techniques

Demonstrate best practices around trust and performance by role-modeling good behaviors. If you do the opposite of what you expect employees to do, they’re unlikely to follow your direction.

“Appreciation for the people who work for you has shown me that employees will more likely stay for the long term.”


—Andrei Vasilescu, Co-Founder and CEO at DontPayFull


Take advantage of real-life examples to show employees how trust is earned. For example, not sharing confidential information about an employee’s circumstances demonstrates how you work within your company’s core values of trust and respect. 

Stay competitive in an ever-changing market and lead by example. Following through on promises, for example, is a great way to role model trust. And perhaps even more important: if you can’t deliver on promises, be honest and upfront. 

5. Deal with any breakdown of trust quickly

Almost two-thirds of employees and business leaders say trust must be earned. What’s more, studies show that people trust each other less today than 40 years ago. 

With trust already fragile, deal with trust issues quickly before they escalate.  

That might mean:

  • Showing employees you’re acting on concerns. Involve them in the resolution process and ask what outcome they’d be happy with
  • Following policies and procedures. Complying with a disciplinary procedure, for example, shows you value the importance of treating employees fairly
  • Sharing learning across the workforce. Not everyone is right 100% of the time. Share your own learning with team members and demonstrate what you’d do differently next time

6. Follow through on your commitments

Managers with integrity gain the trust of employees. Not following through on your commitments, for example, an agreed pay rise, will affect your credibility. Team members won’t know whether the promises you’re making will come to fruition. Employees have a seed of doubt in everything you tell them. 

When you don’t follow through on what you’ve promised, employees will quickly lose faith in other promises you make. If you say a team meeting starts at 10.00 am and you arrive at 10:15, for example, that’s clearly not valuing your employees’ time. 

Equally, if you’ve agreed with any training as part of their personal development plan, follow through with costs and time commitments.

7. Be human

Your team members aren’t just there to make your job easier. They’re real people, too—humans you can build strong relationships with. But it takes time: studies show it takes up to six months for 82 percent of new hires to earn the trust of colleagues and managers.  

Show your human side by sharing personal information, such as your hobbies and family life. Talk about your favorite soccer team or music–it can open up conversations about life outside of work. 

Similarly, admit when you’ve got things wrong (even though it can make you feel uncomfortable.) Admitting you have made a mistake shows your vulnerability and human side, which will help colleagues build their trust in you. 

“We’re all human and will make mistakes. I often will share similar mistakes I have made and what I learned from them. Even today, when I have learned something through trial and error, or if I am provided feedback, I share it with my team. That way, they learn from my mistakes and can hopefully avoid the same pitfalls.”


Meredith Fish, VP, People & Culture, WorkRamp

8. Create a safe, ethical workplace with compliance training

Compliance training is essential in fostering a safe and trusting workplace culture. It’s a proactive approach to educating employees about rules, regulations, and company policies.

Effective compliance training helps to prevent violations and reduce the risk of abuse and other forms of misconduct. By ensuring that employees understand the boundaries within which they can operate safely and legally, compliance training creates an atmosphere where individuals are confident that they’re acting correctly, will be treated appropriately, and can bring their whole selves to work.

When employees are trained in compliance, they’re more likely to recognize and respect rules and regulations, which helps to instill a culture of integrity and ethical behavior. This creates a workplace where employees treat each other with respect and dignity, which increases employees’ trust in the organization and each other.

When workers trust their employer is committed to ethical conduct and protecting its staff, their engagement and loyalty to the company will likely increase. Trust is a two-way street; as organizations demonstrate their commitment to compliance, employees reciprocate with a deeper trust in their workplace, contributing to safety, integrity, and mutual respect.

How a learning management system can instill employee trust and improve workplace performance

Transparency and ongoing education are integral to building trust. As your business grows, ensure all employees (both new and experienced) have access to reliable information and resources with an all-in-one learning management system.

With the Learning Cloud from WorkRamp, you can work confidently with in-office, remote, or hybrid teams with on-demand access and blended learning options. Keep employees in the loop and up to date on the latest training no matter where they are. You can also deliver engaging compliance training to mitigate risk, protect employees, and build workplace trust.

When you create and deliver engaging learning opportunities for team members, you give them the confidence that you believe in them and their abilities and are invested in their future success. 

Start building trust amongst your team

People need to trust each other to work together effectively. But as the old saying goes: trust is infamously hard to build, yet easy to shatter. 

The good news? Building and maintaining trust amongst your workforce doesn’t have to be difficult. From an open-door policy to following through on promises, make trust a key goal of your organization and benefit from better workplace performance. 

Want to learn more about how the Learning Cloud can help you build employee trust and confidence? Contact us to request a demo.

Complete the form for a custom demo.

Elise Dopson

WorkRamp Contributor

Elise Dopson is a freelance writer for B2B SaaS companies. She’s also the co-founder of Peak Freelance and mom to an adorable Spaniel pup.

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