Trust is key to wellbeing and performance in workplace

Trust in the workplace is the key to the wellbeing of employees and the performance of an organisation, according to a report by Working Families and Unum.

The report, Trust: the key to building wellbeing and performance in the workplace, which was prepared by charity Working Families and independent consultant Susanne Jacobs in partnership with Unum, describes the advantages of creating trust in the workplace for wider communities and societies including macro-economic, family benefits, and health and wellbeing.

It examines the importance and influence of key external factors, including 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 to those with children or other caring responsibilities.

The report also compiles the eight intrinsic drivers of trust, which include:

  • 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: 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 and lead researcher on the report, 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, added: “This 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 which build this flexible culture of trust will, in turn, reap the rewards of employee wellbeing and sustainable high performance.”

Linda Smith, HR director at Unum, said: “Intuitively, it makes sense that trust and employee engagement are vital for business success.

“However, this 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, organisations 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.”