Over the past several months I have had a number of conversations with 'old-school' or 'traditional' executives struggling with the current work-from-home environment. While struggling with change is natural, I am often surprised to hear what these executives are most concerned about, namely, whether they can trust their employees to 'work as hard from home.'
According to a recent 'Harvard Business Review' article, they’re not alone in their thinking. It seems that 38% of managers agreed that remote workers usually perform worse than those who work in an office, with more than 20% being 'unsure.'
Based on what I’ve learned about company culture and its connection with business results, I believe employers and executives should be less concerned with trust, and more focussed on their people’s engagement.
It is engagement that leads to greater trust, which allows businesses to maintain growth and productivity regardless of changing work environments.
When I came to work for Reward Gateway, I joined a business with employee engagement at the core of its product solutions, and trust at the centre of our culture. As an employer, RG shows trust in its employees in a variety of ways. We design hiring practices and benefits around the typical and not the exception, and we (over) communicate to lead with open and honest communications about the business and leadership decisions.
The definition of employee engagement reflects an employee’s belief in a company’s mission, understanding of their individual role in and contribution to that Mission, and interest in a company’s success.
With that in mind, is it difficult to imagine that you can trust an engaged employee to push the business forward more than one who is less engaged?
So if you have trust issues with your employees, I recommend that you focus on engaging them in the business and with your mission. Furthermore, since employees’ trust in leadership and in a business will impact engagement, find ways to build their trust in you as well.
It’s a virtual cycle. Build trust with your people in order to improve their engagement and you can trust that they will, in turn, be working to advance your business and mission under new and challenging circumstances.