Trust is the true currency in business; a value that sets successful businesses apart. It helps build work cultures where employees are encouraged to speak up, experiment, and give their best. But trust doesn’t come easy; it must be fostered carefully over time.
Small and medium businesses (SMBs) that had to take tough decisions, such as reducing work hours or perks, to survive are looking to earn back their employees’ trust. Salesforce’s Fifth Small and Medium Business Trends report shows that SMBs are taking steps to address employee concerns around workplace safety, flexible schedules, location, etc.
Based on the report’s insights, here are seven ways SMB leaders can win employee trust by making working easier, and workplaces more conducive to growth:
1. Communicate transparently, consistently – to help employees understand company policies that matter most to them: safety measures, annual leave, remote working, and appraisals. Be transparent about your plans to handle health risks or economic downturns. You can do this by holding regular company- or team-wide meetings, making policy details available on your website, and sharing open calendars with employees.
Transparency, one of the best ways to build trust and increase employee retention, is especially important for growing SMBs that want to attract high-performing professionals.
2. Be empathetic and supportive leaders – with whom employees can freely discuss personal and professional challenges. Ensure you let all employees know they have your support to overcome challenges and are free to seek time off when needed.
Penalising employees for simple mistakes and not allowing them to take risks reduces trust and productivity. Instead, work alongside them to help improve their performance. Also, set up an internal support group and forums to discuss everyday challenges. Empathy can allow SMB leaders to build strong relationships with each employee, enabling them to handle workplace challenges better.
3. Listen to employees’ voices – on changes they would like to see at work. They can also share valuable feedback on how to improve processes and organisational structures at the ground level. SMBs that have small teams can have one-on-one conversations. Or hold team discussions and conduct anonymous polls to get employee feedback.
4. Entrust employees with greater autonomy – to follow their styles of working. Employees (millennials in particular) dislike micromanagement. And it isn’t a good use of an SMB leader’s time either.
In any case, SMB leaders can only don so many hats at once, making it important to encourage employees to be more accountable. This also instils a greater sense of ownership and pride in the employees.
5. Enable employees to contribute to business growth – by continuously aligning their goals with company goals and visions. This shows that you trust them to be capable of doing more, encouraging them to trust you back and contribute towards achieving these goals.
Come together regularly to align individual and team goals with those of the leaders’. This can help SMBs come up with innovative ways to achieve their goals as a team and grow faster.
6. Help employees connect their passions with work – by enabling them to grow professionally and explore their true calling. SMBs can do this by providing employees with opportunities to learn from colleagues, industry experts in their communities, free learning tools, and by encouraging them to think creatively.
7. Walk the talk – by actually implementing company values in the way you work and your worldview towards employees, customers, and important causes. This reflects in how diverse your workforce is, what you do to enable work-life balance, how you approach mental health issues, and whether you use technology responsibly.