Why your employees don't trust you and how you can change that

Human Resources Management Small Business Two men on a cliff, one reaching out to help the other

Almost a quarter of employees don’t trust their bosses.

This is according to the recently released American Psychological Association’s 2014 Work and Well-Being Survey.

“Despite the rebound in the U.S. economy and an improving job market, nearly 1 in 4 workers say they don’t trust their employer and only about half believe their employer is open and upfront with them,” says the report.

“This lack of trust should serve as a wake-up call for employers,” David W. Ballard, head of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence, said in a press release. “Trust plays an important role in the workplace and affects employees’ well-being and job performance.

“The layoffs, benefit cuts and job insecurity that accompanied the recession put a strain on the employee-employer relationship and people aren’t quick to forget.” added Ballard.

People say they have more trust in an organization that recognizes employee contributions, provides opportunities for involvement, and communicates effectively.

Granted, “nearly one in four” isn’t a massive number, but should you be one of these untrusted employers, it can have a real negative impact on your bottom line.

When an employee doesn’t trust you, they’re probably less likely to be fully engaged in their job or to do their best work. If someone thinks they could be fired at any moment, they will always be keeping an eye out for the next opportunity, and will be under constant stress, which can impact mental health and, of course, productivity (if caring about your staff’s mental health doesn’t appeal to you as much as it should, think about the bottom line!).

Why might your employees not trust you? Here are some possibilities:

    1. You’re not trustworthy
    2. You don’t trust others
    3. You don’t communicate effectively
    4. You don’t take the time to get to know them on a personal level

Fortunately, there are easy fixes for all these problems. Here are four things you can do.

    Be trustworthy. Did you see this one coming? Keep your word. Show up when you say you will, fulfill your promises, always follow through. Tell the truth. Simple, right? It actually is.

    “Earn trust by giving trust. It’s the guilty who are the most suspicious. Trustworthy people, on the other hand, are trusting. Because we tend to think the world mirrors our own behaviour. Jeremie Kubicek writes in Making Your Leadership Come Alive, “Give trust to become trustworthy. The first stage of influence is to trust others. It is both the foundation for growth and the bedrock for impact. Without trust there is no influence.”

The next two tips come from Chris Caughell, Marketing Manager at Dale Carnegie Training, the masters of How to Win Friends and Influence People. Caughell says:

    “Dale Carnegie’s number one principle is ‘Don’t Criticize, Condemn or Complain’ and one way to lose an employee’s trust is by gossiping or talking negatively about others in the workplace. Doing so can not only damage a manager’s individual relationship with their employees, but it can also really impact the group dynamics. In order to earn an employee’s trust, managers must stay honest and only communicate positively with coworkers.

    “Managers should also get to know their employees on a more personal level in order to establish a sense of trust. In our recent study on employee engagement, we found that 66% of employees believe their manager does not care about their personal life. By showing that you sincerely care about your employees’ lives outside of the office, you can establish a personal connection and begin to build trust and respect amongst your employees. Managers can easily start to do so by using employees’ names, asking questions about their lives outside of work and genuinely listening to their responses.”

You can’t guarantee anyone that they won’t get laid off, nor can you convince everyone that you aren’t hiding something – maybe you even are. You have bosses too and aren’t always at liberty to share everything you know.

You can only do your best. These tips should help.

Trust me.