Company Culture

Here Are 4 Ways to Develop a Culture of Respect and Trust

Here Are 4 Ways to Develop a Culture of Respect and Trust
Image credit: Shutterstock

We're searching for top company cultures to be featured on our annual list. Think your company has what it takes? Apply Now »

Employee engagement is a huge challenge today that every company is trying to tackle. What makes employees happy? What keeps them around? And what can we (as leaders, entrepreneurs and fellow colleagues) do about it?

Last week the Society for Human Resource Management released a report stating that “respectful treatment of all employees” was the number-one contributor to job satisfaction. And “trust between employees and senior management” was the second. What an amazingly simple idea for a surprisingly common challenge.

This means that above all of the perks and management tricks, treating each other like people is what really matters. Whether you’re starting a company or part of growing one, developing a culture of respect and trust should be a priority.

Related: Entrepreneur and CultureIQ Are Searching for the Top Company Cultures

1. Listen to each other.

Communication is at the core of human relationships, and it should be no different with your colleagues. Open a dialogue by listening and making people feel comfortable sharing. This is an ongoing process that should go beyond a single engagement survey each year. Collect regular, ongoing employee feedback -- and all forms of feedback at that.

Send pulse surveys, host focus groups, plan one-on-one meetings and participate in conversations around the office whenever possible. Sometimes the best feedback happens in these casual settings, when formal barriers are not in place.  

2. Show employees that you care.

In the same way you nod to someone to show them you are listening, make sure employees know you are listening by communicating the findings of any feedback they have provided.

Through my research interviewing hundreds of companies, it stood out to me how well-intentioned feedback efforts can backfire if nothing is done with the new information. Employees want to know that their voices aren’t falling into a black hole. If you can’t make the recommended changes, simply explain why. It’s scary, but transparency like this goes a long way to create a culture of respect and trust.

3. Help each other.

People who respect each other help each other. They support each other as employees and as people. Not only does this mean that employees will have richer, more positive relationships at work but also when there is a culture of support, employees won’t be afraid to ask for help. This ultimately makes everyone more comfortable and effective in his or her job.

Related: 5 Ways to Make Your Employees Happier and More Productive

4. Encourage everyone to be themselves.

The team-building events at my company CultureIQ, a business providing company culture-management software, have ranged from hiking to volunteering at a soup kitchen and a competitive game night at a local jazz bar. The common thread to these diverse (and seemingly unrelated) events is the team behind it.

Each month we pass the planning of our culture events to a different member of our team, and thus, each employee has an opportunity to bring his or her personality to the table. Not only do we get to know each other during the event itself, but we learn something about each employee through the event they plan. Hiking isn’t everyone’s favorite activity, but it certainly speaks to our product manager’s love for the outdoors, and we all are able to respect and appreciate that together.
The next time you find yourself stumped at retaining and engaging employees, just remember that it comes down to two surprisingly simple concepts: respect and trust.

Related: The 3 Steps to Building a Culture of Transparency