Why openness and trust are important in the workplace

A quick summary:

  • Learning about openness and trust from COVID-19 🔎
  • Improving trust and openness in every department of business 🚀
  • Building a healthy workplace with our employee benefits platform 🏆

There is one major difference between a good workplace and a great one. Openness and trust. While good leaders listen well, they sometimes lack action. Great leaders listen, act, and build a positive work environment of openness and employee trust. Only in a healthy workplace like this can teams break through the ceiling of success. 

Whether you’re a leader or not, you can encourage openness and employee trust amongst your colleagues and senior team members. Unfortunately, this can’t be achieved overnight. Like anything that positively disrupts company culture, it takes time. People need to be encouraged to change the way they work.

This shouldn’t dissuade you, however. What takes time is often worthwhile. This form of behavioural change can lead to long-lasting results in the way of healthy workplace culture. Done properly, and your entire team will begin to embrace openness and trust. 

Here, we’ve explored why these two traits are super important to your team. Including a few ways to boost this in your work environment.

What COVID-19 taught us about openness in a work environment

The peak of the COVID-19 pandemic taught us a lot about ourselves. Like just how important community and socialising are to mental health and happiness. From a workplace perspective, we learnt that the taboo around openness has haunted employees for far too long - prompting demand for change. 

Funnily enough, a lot of employers did embrace this. Providing mental health initiatives, flexible working arrangements to support parents and virtual community building activities.

While mental health and wellbeing became a strategic priority, their efforts appear to have dwindled in the aftermath of the pandemic. It seems as though the taboo around mental health and wellbeing in the workplace has slowly improved, but incentives and perks to support healthier, happier living has not.

In the next few years, businesses of all shapes and sizes will draw on their experience and efforts during the pandemic. Hopefully realising the sheer level of positivity that arises from supporting mental health and wellbeing, and building a people-centric culture.

The secret right now, however, is getting started before everyone else. Begin supporting health and wellbeing initiatives before your competitors. Not only will this help transform the company culture before it's too late, but you can also get ahead of everyone else. 

How to build openness and trust across every department

Take a look at some of the ways to build openness and trust into a healthy workplace of your own. From listening more and speaking less to creating company-wide transparency, there are many chances to boost openness and trust.

Speak less, listen more 

Starting with speaking less and listening more. Leaders have a duty of care for the health and wellbeing of employees. It’s only when thorough listening takes place that initiatives and strategies can be put in place to support openness and employee trust in the work environment

For instance, when leadership teams listen to the mental health struggles of their people, they can go about looking for mental health support programmes. Seeing action off the back of a conversation can create the biggest boost to employee trust.

Leaders are there to listen, and by encouraging conversations, especially those that are hard for people, it can shift culture in a positive direction. Quite simply, none of the points below can be taken seriously, if leaders aren’t willing to listen. 

Listening more is where all the magic begins. If you’re a leader that struggles to listen, try to improve your listening skills before moving on to the next points. Let people feel heard and understood, and not only will you see a lift in openness and trust, but you can also build more productive teams. 

Honesty and transparency are key

Closely following the art of listening is honesty and transparency. Answer this, how often have you felt uncomfortable or sceptical about someone or something you know little about? The answer is probably very often!

When we don’t know or understand something, we naturally assume something negative is likely the outcome or answer/result. For instance, your company might be experiencing high turnover, but it could be nothing more than a blip in an impressive 5-year turnover rate. 

Regardless, most employees won’t know this, and so the rumours and false accusations begin. Like Chinese whispers, redundancy talks spread, the blame of an individual takes shape, and all of a sudden turnover is due to something malicious. 

This is just one example of how a lack of honesty and transparency doesn’t create the healthy workplace you were hoping for. Everything from employee benefits, business performance and problems and general concerns should be spoken about honestly and with the truth. 

While many employers fear scaring employees away from their roles, honesty and transparency ensure everyone is on the same page and can fight the upward battle to success together. 

Lead by example

Next up, leading by example. If you want to instil something into your employees, you must show to be leading by example. This applies to everything from using employee benefits, eating healthier lunches, sleeping well, avoiding burnout or speaking up about problems. It is hypocritical to suggest people eat healthier in the work environment, but arrive at the office with fast food. 

This behaviour will certainly dissuade anyone from following your ideas and suggestions. In fact, as someone with reputation and influence, it’ll likely persuade them to behave similarly. We all know too well how tempting it can be when someone orders fast food - all of a sudden, we’re overcome with the need for fast food.

You should also take note when creating an openness around mental health and wellbeing. Show your team that you use the cycle-to-work scheme yourself. Speak up about your emotions, and how you are dealing with them. 

Of course, you don’t need to reveal everything about your journey and experience, but opening up about how you feel will help people better understand what you are going through. And this will reflect in your employees opening up and speaking about how they are dealing with life too. 

Ultimately, it’s your business (or team), and you are the one that wants to build openness and employee trust. Leading by example is the best way to introduce new behaviours or traits to create a healthy workplace.

Appreciation doesn’t cost a penny

Lastly, let’s talk about appreciation. It costs very little to express gratitude and be thankful for the efforts of your employees. Appreciation is something a lot of us overlook in everyday life. Not because we don’t appreciate someone's favour, gift or hard work, but it simply slips our mind in the moment. 

If you want to build openness and employee trust in a healthy workplace, you need to show appreciation for your team’s hard work and efforts. Even for the small things. When people feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to trust you. They will suggest new and innovative ideas - some good, others not so much.

It’s leadership teams who shoot people down for their ideas and suggestion, who are often left squeezing ideas out of a team too afraid to share their thoughts. That is why employee trust is so important, and gratitude can get you there. 

Hopefully, now, you can see exactly what it takes to build openness and employee trust for a positive work environment. It’s a combination of things that will transform company culture for the better. Each of the tactics above cannot exist alone. Making any change to company culture requires team-wide acceptance and ongoing efforts.   

An employee benefits platform to build a healthy workplace environment

Building a healthy workplace requires a culture of wellbeing at the heart of a business. To achieve this, people need to perceive their job as a positive work environment; a place that creates health and happiness in their lives. 

Now, a lot of people don’t think ‘happiness’ and ‘work’ can exist in the same sentence! Yet, here at Heka, we’ve proved time and time again that it can. Take our members, for instance, they are using credits gifted by their employer to improve their health and wellbeing each and every month. 

If that isn’t the definition of building healthy lifestyles in and outside the workplace, what is? Through Heka, members can book thousands of wellbeing experiences, products and services. 

This means healthy meal deliveries, treetop climbing, language learning, online therapy and so much more. The benefits of bringing health and wellbeing into the workplace are phenomenal. People are more productive, perform better and generally experience higher job satisfaction. 

Take a look around and meet Heka yourself. Alternatively, book a demo now with one of our wellbeing experts!