3 Tips for Building a Culture of Trust in Your Workplace

Dr. Ryan Giffen

As a business owner, you want your company culture to be positive.  When people think of business culture, they often think of cold, hard, and impersonal – but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Having a culture of trust in the workplace can help employees feel like they belong and are valued, which in turn makes them more focused and productive.  Here are three tips for building a culture of trust in your company.

1. Give employees voice and choice.

Nothing says, “I trust you,” more than allowing people to make decisions for themselves.  Of course, you can’t let every person in your company do whatever they want to; that’s not good business.  Most workplaces, however, act too far in the other direction.  If you try to control everything your employees do, they feel stifled.  No one wants to feel like someone is looking over their shoulder all the time. 

Allow your employees to set their own schedules within reason.  Make it easy for them to share ideas with others.  If you have a company culture of collaboration, your employees will feel more like they are working together towards a common goal rather than slaving away for no specific reason.  Creating a business culture where everyone feels like their voice is heard and their work is needed is key to having happy, hardworking employees.

2. Praise good work to improve your company culture

Another important part of building a company culture of trust is making sure people feel appreciated.  Publicly acknowledge excellent work you see being done in your company.  Your praise needs to be genuine, of course.  You can’t build a culture of trust by lying.  Be honest when giving feedback, both positive and negative.  While corrections are sometimes needed in order to have things done correctly, it is just as important to celebrate successes.  You don’t want your employees to feel that all of your attention is focused on poor work or mistakes.

3. Be open and communicative.

People trust others that they feel like they know.  If you as a business owner or leader are closed off from the other workers in your company, they may not trust you simply because they don’t know enough about you.  It is important to be open with your employees.  This goes a long way in building a solid company culture. This doesn’t mean they have to know every little personal detail about your life, but having casual conversations about things outside of work like family or hobbies is a good way to build relationships with people.  A little vulnerability goes a long way.

You want your employees to feel like they can come to you when they have a problem, and this can only happen if you have a culture of trust.  Establish open communication as a core piece of your company culture from the beginning.  It is much more difficult to over communicate than under communicate.  Some may argue that there is no such thing as over communication at all.  Even something as simple as copying an employee on an email that mentions a project they are working on helps keep the communication lines open and clear.

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ryan Giffen is an expert in human relations and business culture. His career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not long after, Ryan found his passion for teaching and consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management with a Human Resources focus from Iowa State University and now works as an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. For over a decade, he continues to research and speak on organizational culture, relationship intelligence, and leadership effectiveness. Ryan is also the founder of Inospire, a company helping bosses and employees build stronger relationships with one another.  Lastly, Dr. Giffen is producer and host of the Corporate Shadow Podcast. a show helping everyday employees overcome workplace nonsense.