Earning Your Employees’ Trust, Loyalty and Commitment: It’s About So Much More Than $$$

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When people hear that I head Human Resources at a company with more than 150,000 employees, they tend to make a lot of assumptions. Generally, they imagine I spend my days buried in spreadsheets, or absorbed in the detail of talent acquisition strategies, upskilling, leadership development, and regulatory compliance issues. And, sure; to a certain extent, that’s all true.

But I also need to keep an eye on the bigger picture. And, when it comes to safeguarding the well-being and performance of so many employees, there’s one factor I prioritize above all others: trust.

Because for critical, strategic factors like productivity, innovation, and talent engagement, trust is indispensable.

The global PR company Edelman, for instance, found that employees who trust their employers are around twice as motivated, innovative and loyal as those that don’t. The professional services firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers likewise identified trust as the most important predictor of a company’s financial performance.

But trust doesn’t arise spontaneously based on strong revenue growth. Nor can it be purchased with a large pay packet. As in any other human relationship, trust between a business and its people needs to be earned. And that takes time and effort. 

So, what steps can business leaders and HR departments adopt to cultivate trust among their people?

hands holding a plant building trust with employees

Money can’t build employee trust

First and foremost, we must embody the type of behaviors we wish to see reflected among our colleagues. That is to say, if we want our people to demonstrate honesty, transparency and reliability in their daily conduct, we must lead by example.

Think about it: If leaders consistently behave fairly and dependably, their people will be more inclined to do so too. And that can, in turn, generate a virtuous cycle, strengthening trust between employees and everyone they interact with – from customers and suppliers to investors and regulators.

At Schneider Electric, we believe that a culture of trust starts at the top of the organization. And we’ve implemented a range of institutions and policies to reinforce good practices among our people.

Our Trust Charter, for example, outlines the fundamental principle of trust in addressing a range of issues, from insider trading to data security. Similarly, our confidential Trust Line encourages colleagues to speak up if they encounter issues of ethical concern.

Companies must also communicate openly, honestly and consistently with their people. And that’s not just about imparting information, but also listening.

When employees feel that their voices are heard and their concerns are taken seriously, they’re more likely to feel invested in the success of the company. Regular check-ins, town hall meetings, and other forums for feedback and discussion can help foster a culture of trust.

At Schneider, we operate a continuous listening strategy and prioritize regular, honest two-way conversations between managers and their teams on topics like career progression, performance, and mentoring. This enables us to capture and monitor employee sentiment and to hear from our people during the periods that matter most to them – such as during onboarding or following a performance review.

Allied to our annual engagement survey, OneVoice, this sustained dialogue ensures a consistent flow of feedback from our people, enabling us to improve their experience, safeguard their well-being and optimize their professional growth.

Empowerment is another critical factor in building employee trust. For when people are enabled to make decisions and take ownership of their work, they feel more engaged and committed to their jobs.

Our people vision. Meaningful Empowered Inclusive

Opportunities for professional growth, skills training, and leadership development are all essential in this regard, as is the sense that your work benefits the planet and society. In our case, this derives principally from the fact that all our products, software, services, sustainability commitments and corporate citizenship programs are geared towards what we call positive “Impact” .

Furthermore, we have long empowered our people through flexible working policies that equip them to organize their work in the manner that suits them best. Indeed, the entire success of our hybrid working model is underpinned by that critical foundation of trust between managers and our people.

We also provide regular skills training on our e-learning portal, and empower employees to take ownership of their career via our internal jobs platform, the Open Talent Market.

Finally, recognition and rewards: Whether it’s a performance bonus, public recognition, or a year-end team celebration, if people feel appreciated, that usually translates into the trust, loyalty and commitment we all want to see in our workplace.

Building employee trust through continuous effort

Ultimately, the success of all these strategies depends on how they’re applied. Just like in any other human relationship, building and maintaining trust requires constant, dedicated effort. And just as it can take years to cultivate, it can vanish in an instant.

For this reason, I think about nurturing a vibrant internal culture of trust as an ongoing journey. It’s a voyage that’s defined not by any fixed destination, but a set of principles. And out of all the things I do in my role as CHRO, it’s the thing I feel most passionate about.

Come join us!

Photo graph of Charise Le standing

Discover what it means to work at Schneider Electric and why we know Great People make Schneider Electric a Great Company. Visit our careers page to discover current opportunities at Schneider Electric and follow us on our social media to stay up to date with all our latest news and updates.

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