Why building trust is key to business success


Following the release of the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer report, Claire Gray, Founding Director of Bain and Gray, examines what employers can do to retain their talent and improve organisational trust.

Creating trusting relationships between employees and their employers is a fundamental part to the success of an organisation. In fact, in PwC’s 2016 global CEO survey found that over half of leaders believe that a lack of trust is a threat to their company’s success. There’s no denying that a high level of trust can have a major impact on a company in terms of creating engagement, retaining talent and improving quality in the workplace.

Yet, the astonishing truth of contemporary research is that many employees appear to be lacking trust in their employer. A global study by Harvard Business Review of 9,800 workers from eight countries discovered that under half or respondents trust their employers, while a third claim that they have some trust and 15% cited that they have very little or no trust at all.

The recent 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer report reveals that despite a strong global economy and near full employment, none of the four societal institutions – government, business, NGOs and media – are trusted. According to the research, the reason for this lack of trust boils down to an individual’s fears around the future of their job. A staggering 83% of respondents are concerned about losing their jobs, with 58% attributing this to a lack of training and skills.

Maintaining talent

So what can organisations do to increase trust and encourage their talent pool and their business to flourish? Clearly, employees need to feel listened to, responded to and developed as individuals in order to secure their economic future. Teams need to feel valued and invested in to remain motivated and engaged.

Claire Gray, Founding Director of Bain and Gray

With this in mind, businesses should consider putting additional measures in place to support and retain their existing talent pool. One key way, of course, is by encouraging open communication in the workplace so employees do not fear speaking out. Providing regular reviews and one-to-one facetime can also help to monitor individual staff members, which can build a higher level of trust between employee and manager.

It’s also critical to involve staff in the future direction of the business, with almost two thirds of respondents in the Edelman report citing the importance of being involved in in forward planning. Indeed, some of the most innovative ideas come from listening to employees, whose thoughts and ideas on new ways of doing business can be inspirational. With their growing knowledge of the organisation, employees can offer valuable insights which can provide an ideal springboard for future growth.

Digital enhancements

In a progressively digital world, with more businesses integrating new technologies into their infrastructure, the need to upskill workers has never been more critical. 79% of research respondents believe that businesses have a duty to retrain employees affected by automation or innovation. If you actively promote upskilling and workforce retention, employees will better understand their personal importance to the business and can embrace retaining. Ensuring your staff are keeping abreast of the latest technology will create better work flow rates, a happier team and help profitability continue to grow.

As a recruiter, we advocate that particular care is taken when training new joiners, as this can lead to despondency and a feeling of being ‘overtaken’ at work by existing members of staff. It can lower self-esteem and ultimately make staff feel like easily replaceable. Putting existing employees at the heart of training up new recruits can held create an easy transition into the business for all involved.

Complacency is the killer here; if businesses are thought leaders in their market, and constantly looking at innovative and different approaches to upskill staff, they will stay one step ahead and retain and motivate the talent within their business.


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