By Daniel Hunter
A new report has - for the first time - 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 practically applied.
The report - Trust: the key to building well-being and performance in the workplace - provides a clear path from the individual, the team in which they work, how they are led and their level of trust, to sustainable gains in productivity.
Prepared by Working Families and Susanne Jacobs in partnership with Income Protection specialist Unum, the report also describes the advantages of creating trust in the workplace for wider communities and societies including macro-economic, individual health and wellbeing, and family benefits.
The study examines the importance and influence of key external factors - work-life integration, workload and flexible working to wellbeing. Work-life integration supported by flexible-working, in particular, is shown to provide a significant boost to operational performance.
The benefits of a truly flexible working culture are shown to be equally important to both genders and to those without dependents as those with children or other caring responsibilities. It also dispels a common 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.
The report also reveals the eight intrinsic drivers of trust, each of which must be addressed in order to drive trust, and therefore move towards optimal performance:
· Belong and connect - The feeling that the employee feels part of and connected to their team and organisation
· Voice and recognition — The individual’s ability to speak up in a way that allows them to influence decision making
· Significance and position — The employees sense that they have a clear and important role in their team
· Fairness — The understanding that individuals are evenly treated within their team and the organisation
· Learn and challenge — The opportunity to learn and master new skills and achieve tangible results
· Choice and autonomy — The sense of control over workplace delivery
· Security and certainty — The sense of predictability and confidence in the workplace environment
· Purpose — The understanding of how an individual’s role contributes and is aligned to the team and organisation’s success
Susanne Jacobs, Consultant Lead Researcher said: “Truly understanding how individuals are motivated at work provides not just the gateway to optimal performance, something sought by every organisation, but also an environment where every person can flourish. Trust and psychological wellbeing 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. We know the solution and we know the tools, so let's put it into practice.”
Sarah Jackson, Chief Executive of Working Families said: “This robust research provides further strong evidence of the vital importance of offering flexible working for all employees. It is clear that the external contributing factors of flexible working and work life integration are linked strongly to ‘choice and autonomy’ which is a key driver of workplace trust. Employers who build this flexible culture of trust will in turn reap the rewards of employee well-being and sustainable high performance.”
Linda Smith, HR Director of Unum said: “Intuitively it makes sense that trust and employee engagement are vital for business success. However, Trust: the key to building well-being and performance in the workplace is the first study to examine and quantify not just how a trusting environment contributes to productivity, but also why.
“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 such as Income Protection, firms can create a truly high-performance culture that delivers real competitive advantage.”
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