6 Ways to Build a High-Trust Workplace Culture

July 16, 2018

If you could pinpoint one area that may be hindering your organization from meeting its growth goals, what would you identify?

If you’re like 50% of CEOs polled by PWC’s 2016 Global CEO Survey, your response would be: a lack of trust in the workplace.

A “low trust” workplace culture is a place where employees feel stressed, anxious, and insecure about their contributions and role within the organization. According to researcher Dr. Paul J. Zak, who has studied the impact of low-trust companies on employee productivity: “people at high-trust companies report 74% less stress compared with people at low-trust companies; 106% more energy at work; 50% higher productivity; 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, and 40% less burnout.”

In his research, Dr. Zak discovered a direct link between oxytocin levels, which decrease when we feel stress, and an increase in employee productivity within trust-based organizations. The higher the oxytocin levels while at work, the happier and more productive the employees became as a result.

Building a culture of trust in your workplace not only raises employee’s oxytocin levels in order to help them be as productive as possible, but it also creates greater empathy among staff, and enhances overall organizational performance and success.

Follow these six steps to begin building your high-trust workplace culture today:

1. Induce “Challenge Stress”

While employees are at their most productive when their oxytocin levels are high, moderate stress as the result of challenging but difficult goals releases a combination of oxytocin and adrenocorticotropin. Together, these chemicals allow team members to increase their focus and enhance their collaboration skills.

In order to manage “challenge” stress, we suggest following the SMART model:

  • Specific goals.
  • Measurable results.
  • Attainable outcomes.
  • Realistic goals.
  • Time-Sensitive deadlines.

2. Give Immediate Recognition

Neuroscientists have found that public recognition has the most impact when it’s delivered as soon as an employee meets their goal or accomplishes their task. Additionally, taking the time to publicly praise a team member makes them feel good, and encourages others to try harder and earn the same level of recognition.

3. Give Employees More Control

survey from CitiGroup and LinkedIn recently concluded that almost 50% of all employees would forfeit a 20% raise in exchange for having more control over their work environment.

Even if you can’t offer your employees options like working remotely or flexible office hours – some businesses simply can’t offer these options – you can ask for employee input in areas like office layout, decorating, and where they sit.

4. Empower Employees to Have Input on How They Work

Instead of assigning tasks and assuming each team member is satisfied with what has been assigned, consult with your team and ask them which areas they’d most like to take on in order to solve a challenge.

Giving your employees the freedom to choose their workloads not only motivates them in the areas they’re interested in, but also enhances team collaboration since staff will have to support one another to work through the problem.

5. Be Intentional With Your Behavior

Developing your emotional intelligence is a critical component to effective leadership. By setting ground rules for behavior like “OK, not OK” rules, communicating clearly and often with your team, and modeling the behavior you’d like to see in your staff you can inspire them to take the same action by leading by example.

6. Intentionally Build Relationships

Gallup concluded that having a best friend at work dramatically increases how engaged employees feel at work, concluding that employees with friends at work were 43% more likely to receive recognition for their work – this increases oxytocin levels and creates more opportunities for happiness at the office.

Science Has Spoken

Emotional intelligence and “soft skill” development has become a must-have for any professional who is dedicated to achieving their true potential. By developing your EQ and investing the time and energy into building a high-trust workplace you can decrease employee turnover, increase productivity, and create a workplace where everyone is motivated and inspired to do their best.

At EI Advantage, we help leaders and team members develop their Emotional Intelligence (EQ) to better  understand how others approach change, how they deal with change on a personal level, and how your team can navigate challenges together. Want to learn more about how our services can help you improve your team’s overall performance? Contact us today or reach out on FacebookLinkedIn, or Twitter.