10 Ways to Show You Trust Your Employees

Cartoon of manager talking to employee that just quit.

Building trust in the workplace should be every manager’s highest priority. In some situations, this should take precedence over maintaining the bottom line. The human element of your operation transcends economics. But why is trusting employees important? What happens when you trust your employees? 

People who work at high-trust companies are happier employees: compared with those who work at low-trust companies, they report 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 76% more engagement, and 40% less burnout. Learning how to trust employees is part of maintaining a competitive business advantage. Your people are your best asset. To know how to show you trust your employees, check out our recommendations for practices to implement into your management strategy. 

Why developing trust between employees and employers is good for business

Your front-line team interfaces with your customers daily. Prioritizing taking good care of these employees is a critical component of a thriving, recession-proof business strategy. It’s essential to understand how to gain the trust of your employees to weather both the good and bad times.  

Other reasons trust helps your business: 

  • Employees are more likely to go above and beyond
  • Employees feel secure in their jobs and can focus on the work
  • Employee turnover reduces with increased job satisfaction

10 ways to show you trust your employees

1. Be consistent.

Lead by example. If you expect your employees to meet high standards, you must be able to meet them yourself. Show up on time. Keep your promises. Maintain a sense of calm, even when faced with difficult situations. Hold all team members to the same set of expectations. 

2. Practice transparency.

Why is trust so important between a leader and their employees? It promotes a sense of safety, especially in uncertain times. Maintain an open door policy, welcome questions, and be as honest as possible about major business decisions. In this challenging hiring climate, empowered workers walk away from workplaces that do not serve them. 

3. Demonstrate presence.

Your nonverbal communication speaks volumes, whether you intend it to or not. Show your employees that you are authentically, actively listening to them when they speak to you: make eye contact and use open body language. This combination signals respect for their time and contributions. 

4. Consider your team’s needs.

Your employees are people with real lives, feelings, and goals. Evaluate whether you are holding your team to unrealistic, unsustainable expectations. Schedule adequate, ample breaks. Advocate for an accessible workplace. Hiring seasonal or temporary employees at peak times can minimize burnout created by over-reliance on overtime hours worked by core team members.  

5. Ask for continuous feedback

Make a deliberate effort to hold regular check-ins with your employees. Ask your team about how you can best support their work. Solicit unfiltered opinions & subject matter expertise. Identify areas for growth, then build collaborative action plans. Most importantly, managers must follow through on business improvement. When employees can see the impact of their feedback, they develop trust in leadership. 

6. Show daily appreciation.

Every day, real-time acknowledgments of a job well-done show your employees how much value they bring to their roles. Public and private recognitions can be equally impactful; consider what would land most comfortably with your intended recipient. Feeling seen and receiving thanks promotes trust across your team. 

7. Be a coach. 

Who do employees trust the most? Invested managers who make them feel truly supported. Rather than traditionally “managing”, be a guide. Especially when direct reports are struggling, lean in and offer more training and encouragement. Provide plentiful opportunities for professional development. 

8. Encourage autonomy over work.

Micromanaging every detail of your team’s work implies that you don’t trust them to do a good job. Instead, encourage them to work independently, then meet for a daily or weekly check-in. Introduce additional responsibilities as employees grow in their confidence. Trusting employees supports better performance–and you’ll benefit from their unique experience. 

9. Be open to change.

As your employees develop new skills and build competence in their roles, they become more creative. Their ability to innovate expands. They may naturally look for more efficient ways to do their job well. Be willing to adopt these new best practices into company policy. Seeing these changes implemented also has the benefit of increasing employee satisfaction. 

10. Build an inclusive culture.

Standout leaders pursue organizational initiatives that emphasize equal compensation, equity & diversity education, and work-life balance. Make space for employees to develop voluntary internal networks: employee resource groups. These groups foster a sense of belonging. An inclusive workplace environment becomes more accessible and desirable for workers from diverse walks of life. 

Trust takes time. As a manager, practicing how to show you trust your employees starts with becoming someone trustworthy. Incorporate these tips into your daily management tasks. Treat your team with kindness and respect. They’ll return the gesture tenfold.

Ready to Become a Staffing Expert?

About the Author: Meghna Jaradi is a freelance writer and events manager with experience working for the Seattle Times, Kitchen Arts & Letters, Book Larder, Peddler Brewing Company, and more. You can contact her on LinkedIn.

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