New Research Identifies Trust As A Business Critical Issue

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

A new report prepared by Working Families and Lead Research Consultant Susanne Jacobs (and in partnership with Unum) has revealed not just the importance of the sense of trust between businesses and their employees in creating a high-performance work culture, but also what drives this trust and how it can be applied in a practical manner. The report, entitled Trust: The Key to Building Well-Being and Performance in the Workplace, describes the advantages of creating trust in the workplace for wider communities and societies.

The study examines the importance and influence of key external factors—work-life integration, workload expectations, and flexible working alternatives—as they relate to well being. In particular, work-life integration supported by flexible working was shown to provide a significant boost to operational performance.

Linda Smith, HR Director of Unum, says, “Given the unprecedented demographic, social and technological changes that have transformed the workplace over the last 30 years, businesses need to be smarter than ever about how they hire, develop, and retain talent. The report shows that any effective strategy needs to deliver an integrated approach that focuses on the issue of trust. By embracing flexible working, freeing up communication, and providing a balanced employee benefits package that delivers long-term financial security, firms can create a high-performance culture that delivers a real, competitive advantage.”

In the report, the benefits of a flexible working culture were shown to be equally important to both genders; they were also equally important to those with or without dependents. It also dispelled the myth about flexible working, demonstrating that there is no link between flexible working and “work centrality”— the importance employees attach to work in their life.

Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families adds, “The external contributing factors of flexible working and work-life integration are strongly linked to ‘choice and autonomy’ which are key drivers of workplace trust. Employers who build this will reap the rewards of employee well-being and sustainable high performance.”

A portion of the report examined the following drivers of trust which can help move organizations towards optimal workplace performance:

  1. Belong and connect. The feeling that the employee feels part of—and connected to—his or her team and organization.
  2. Voice and recognition. The individual’s ability to speak up in a way that allows him or her to influence decision making.
  3. Significance and position. The sense that employees have clear and important roles in their teams.
  4. Fairness. The understanding that individuals are evenly treated within their teams and the organization.
  5. Learn and challenge. The opportunity to learn and master new skills and achieve tangible results.
  6. Choice and autonomy. The sense of control over workplace delivery.
  7. Security and certainty. The sense of predictability and confidence in the workplace environment.
  8. Purpose. The understanding of how an individual’s role contributes—and is aligned to—the success of the team and the organization.
Lead Research Consultant Jacobs
Lead Research Consultant Jacobs

Jacobs explains, Truly understanding how individuals are motivated at work provides not just the gateway to optimal performance, something sought by every organization, but also an environment where every person can flourish. Trust and psychological well being are the answer—the equation to reach that answer, starts with individual and team resilience, plus the eight drivers of trust together with a workplace that is built to support every human being within it.”

The research is based on The Jacobs Model which surveyed 1,237 employees from the professional, financial, manufacturing, and child and adult care industries. The Jacobs Model has been developed by Jacobs over several years of secondary academic research and more than 25 years of senior business leadership and practical experience.