Building a Culture of Trust: From Candidate to Employee and Beyond
- By Weronika Niemczyk-Savage, ABBYY
- October 16, 2023
In today's ever-evolving job market, building a culture of trust has become a cornerstone of success for technology organizations. Trust is the foundation for long-lasting, productive relationships between employees and employers.
However, a recent survey from management consultants Gartner found that only half of job candidates trust their prospective employer to be honest during the hiring process. And more worrying is that 44% admit to accepting a job and then changing their minds.
This can prove disastrous for recruiting much-needed tech talent, especially with 95% of businesses reporting problems finding the right IT skills.
Building trust must extend across the entire employee lifecycle, from the first interaction with candidates to navigating organizational changes. Forming the right level of trust leads to better hiring outcomes, reduced employee churn, and enhanced organizational resilience. Here are some insights on how organizations can achieve this:
1. The Candidate Experience
In a competitive job market, candidates have more choices than ever before. Organizations must prioritize establishing trust from the moment a candidate interacts with the company to attract and retain the right talent.
- Holistic Hiring Process: The hiring process must be designed to involve multiple stakeholders in candidate assessments. Instead of relying solely on hiring managers' decisions, it's essential to have several individuals within the organization evaluate each candidate. At ABBYY, a global intelligent automation company, candidates meet with various team members, including those who assess technical skills, soft skills, leadership abilities, and shared values. This approach provides a more comprehensive view of an applicant’s potential and fosters trust by ensuring diverse perspectives and opinions in the hiring decision.
- Transparency and Openness: Transparency about your organization's values, expectations, and work culture is essential. Potential employees deserve more than just job descriptions and compensation details. Recruiting is not just about filling a position but building a relationship. You must treat candidates like customers, sharing insights into your ethos, work ethics, and values, which helps them make an informed decision when joining the team.
- Respect for Autonomy: Trust and autonomy go hand in hand. We are all adults; you must trust employees to be responsible, accountable, and self-motivated. No one wants to be micromanaged, although setting goals and expecting results is understandable. This trust extends to remote work, where values, work ethics, and energy become even more critical. By trusting employees to do the right thing without constant supervision, you empower them to excel. It's about providing the freedom to make choices. In my experience, if you give people the responsibility to make decisions, they will make the right ones. Giving them your trust means they won't want to disappoint.
- Genuine Care: In 2022, ABBYY faced the tough challenge of relocating hundreds of our employees from Russia as we exited the market due to the war in Ukraine. Considering the number of employees and families involved, we supported over 600 individuals in starting a new life in Serbia, Hungary, and Cyprus. While extraordinary in nature, acts like these are powerful trust builders, demonstrating our commitment to our people.
2. Maintaining Trust During Organizational Change
Organizational changes, such as restructuring, can challenge trust within an organization. However, maintaining loyalty during these times is crucial for employees and the company’s long-term success.
- Open and Honest Communication: Once again, transparency must be paramount. Clearly communicate the reasons behind any changes, the expected impact, and the plan moving forward. While this is not always easy, it's crucial to prioritize honest and timely communication, ensuring that employees understand how they may be affected on an individual level. Admittedly, ABBYY hasn’t always hit the mark in the past, and the journey has been quite challenging, especially with so many changes affecting our team all at once. Nevertheless, we are committed to making improvements and firmly believe that we are now in a significantly better position.
- Involving Employees: Trust can be nurtured by involving employees in decision-making processes when feasible. Seek their input and listen to their concerns. When employees feel their voices are heard, they are more likely to feel confident that their interests are being considered. Of course, involvement doesn't mean we will always agree; some decisions are simply inevitable, and it's important to understand the risks and implications. It doesn't mean you will always be able to find common ground, and that's okay if you come to the discussion with openness, transparency and respect.
- Providing Support: During times of change, offer support mechanisms such as career transition assistance, counseling, and resources for skill development. Demonstrating that you care about employees' well-being fosters faith and conviction.
3. Garnering Feedback
Feedback is a powerful tool for promoting trust and employee engagement. Regular feedback loops enable organizations to understand their strengths, areas for improvement and employee sentiment. At ABBYY, we use feedback as a strategic asset. Regular employee surveys and one-on-one interviews enable you to gather insights and opinions. Regular anonymous surveys can provide a safe space for employees to express concerns and suggestions. Our engagement surveys are a highly appreciated tool by both staff and managers. From a company standpoint, some issues can be common, or trends may be noticed, such as feeling isolated. The tool allows greater visibility into how staff think; we can assess scores to see what measures are working and where improvements may be needed to meet individual needs.
- Actionable Insights: Listening does help, but it is not enough. You must also use the insights gathered to make tangible changes and improvements. Demonstrating that feedback leads to positive change, reinforces trust and strengthens your relationship with your employees.
- Continuous Dialogue: Don't just declare you have an open-door policy—actively encourage ongoing conversations between employees and management; create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. Open channels of communication ensure that trust is built and sustained. At ABBYY, we conduct regular Town Halls with options for anonymous questions, which our executive management team addresses in an open forum.
4. Employee Engagement Strategies that Enhance Trust
Employee engagement is closely tied to trust. Engaged employees are more likely to trust their leaders and the organization. Empower employees to take ownership of their experiences and initiatives. Establish local cross-functional engagement teams comprised of employees responsible for creating initiatives that meet the needs of their peers.
- Employee Initiative Groups: At ABBYY, we also support our colleagues in forming Employee Initiative Groups, such as "Women at ABBYY," intended to serve as a forum for women in the company but welcome anyone to join. These initiatives foster peer-to-peer trust and a sense of belonging within the organization.
- Flexibility: Flexibility in work arrangements, such as remote work options and flexible working schedules, demonstrate faith in employees' ability to balance work and life responsibilities.
- Integral HR Involvement: The People team should be integrated into the daily life of business teams, closely collaborating with them to spot opportunities and challenges. Being part of every business decision within each department, the People team can ensure that people-related aspects are always considered.
In summary, building a culture of trust across the entire candidate and employee lifecycle is beneficial and essential in today's competitive job market. Organizations can create an environment where employees feel valued, motivated, and committed by emphasizing trust from the beginning, maintaining it during times of change, actively seeking feedback, and implementing employee engagement strategies.
Trust is not just a word but a commitment to building a stronger, more resilient company and fostering meaningful relationships with talented individuals who drive success.
Weronika Niemczyk-Savage, chief people officer at intelligent automation company ABBYY, wrote this article.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CDOTrends. Image credit: iStockphoto/melitas