Brad Callahan
Vice President, Business Solutions Group
August 23, 2016

How High-trust Relationships Drive High Performing Companies

Over the years we have seen employee engagement replace employee satisfaction as a means for organizations to attract and retain talent. As we well know, many research studies have demonstrated the clear linkages between employee engagement and organizational performance. 

Research has also revealed a direct correlation between greater investment in, and focus on, employee engagement and substantially higher levels of customer satisfaction, return on assets, and shareholder earnings. However, much like satisfaction, in the past, engagement has—for many companies—become little more than a score used to gauge progress over time as a benchmark against other organizations. 

Creating Real Engagement

Real employee engagement involves a complete understanding of the employee relationship and experience in the context of the entire business network. Real engagement requires an understanding of how employees trust the organization and feel, emotionally, about the culture and the physical work environment. It involves a genuine comprehension of the complicated relationship between employees, managers, partners and the larger organization. 

This is best illustrated in the book “The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It, and Why It Matters,” by Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin. The book depicts the Dimensions of a Great Place to Work® and describes how leaders and managers can instill the core values of trust, pride, and camaraderie with each communication touchpoint or interaction. 

Good workplaces become great when managers deliberately and reliably focus on these core values. With an appreciation of high-trust relationships, managers can better connect with people to foster engagement and drive business results. How this is consistently done, becomes the very essence of the culture. 

Today’s Need for Trust-building

Senior executives understand this as well and a growing number of business leaders are coming around to the notion that building trust is critical to the company as a whole. In fact, more than half of the CEOs surveyed (55 percent) in PwC’s 19th Annual, Global CEO Survey expressed concern about the lack of trust in business today—compared with 37 percent just three years ago. 

Profitable companies are not built from the ground up, but rather from the purpose up. Employees don’t necessarily buy into a company or an organizational brand; they buy into a set of values. Leaders and managers with an understanding and appreciation of this can blaze a path that helps shape the culture, internal values and behaviors, injecting legitimacy into the company’s trust-building mindset. 

It follows then that employee reward and recognition programs need to provide leadership, especially managers, with touchpoint opportunities to imbue recognition with actions that demonstrate trust, instill pride, encourage camaraderie and provide a sense of purpose and meaning to the employee contributions. 

As practitioners, we understand that creating a sustainable culture of appreciation and recognition requires setting expectations and enabling a feedback-rich environment, recognizing and celebrating accomplishments as well as instilling a sense of purpose and meaning. We also know that this feedback-rich environment provides critical support to building a high-trust organization. 

We recognize that centralized employee engagement solutions provide the foundation for the socialization of recognition, personalization, open two-way communication, and rewards. They provide leaders and managers with an opportunity to help employees understand what organizational values look like in the context of their work by showcasing employee contributions via social activity streams and formal and informal reward channels. 

Moreover, these platforms enable managers to deliver timely, sincere and consistently fair reward and recognition to all employees, giving them a feeling of value, pride, and meaning to their contributions. 

If your company is struggling with leveraging your human capital or talent management as whole, let us help you explore why some companies have what it takes to create great workplaces and how a well-structured employee reward and recognition program can help you to build and sustain a high-trust culture.

Sources:“The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It, and Why It Matters,” by Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin. Jossey-Bass, January 2011.“Trust in Business: Delivering Authentic Value.” PwC, June 2016.

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