How to Build Trust with Employees and New Hires

Does your staff trust strangers more than they trust you? One survey showed that 58% of people have more trust for complete strangers than their boss. Figuring out how to build trust in a team is often a challenge, especially if your team already has trust issues. From team-building activities to leading by example, actively building trust with your team can pay off with increased productivity, improved teamwork and boosted employee morale. Find out more about building trust on a team, including the benefits and how to do it.


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What is the value of trust in a team?

Why does building trust on a team matter? Without trust, it’s difficult for your team to get anything done. According to the Great Place to Work Institute, when a company has a high-trust culture, it has a roughly 50% lower turnover rate than competitors and sees stock market returns that are about two to three times more than average. Here are other benefits of team trust.


Makes employees feel safe

A company culture built on trust feels safer to employees. They feel like their supervisors and the company support them.


This sense of safety encourages your employees to take more risks. It also creates a more positive work environment that makes your employees want to be there. A culture of safety and trust can put new hires more at ease from the beginning, which helps you get the best out of them sooner.


Improves collaboration

Trust encourages teamwork and helps with the team development process. When employees trust one another, they’re better able to collaborate. They trust that their colleagues are upholding their responsibilities to ensure the team as a whole is successful. They also know they can rely on each other if someone needs help.


Creates loyal employees

When employees feel they can trust their employers, they become loyal advocates. According to Edelman, 78% of employees who trust their employers advocate on behalf of the company, and 74% remain loyal to the company. That loyalty can help you reduce turnover and makes new hires excited to work for the company.


Encourages increased employee morale

A high-trust workplace can improve employee morale. When you boost employee morale, your employees are happier and more engaged. That creates a more positive work environment in general and increases productivity and collaboration.


How to determine if your employees trust you

Employees often put on a front with the boss, even if they don’t feel completely comfortable with them. For that reason, it can be difficult to tell if your employees actually trust you or if they’re just trying to keep the peace.


Here are some red flags that could mean you have a trust issue:

  • Your employees never tell you “No” or don’t feel comfortable questioning things you say.
  • They fail to embrace your company’s values.
  • They don’t exhibit pride in the company.
  • Employees seem disengaged.
  • There’s conflict within the team, or employees don’t seem to work well together.
  • You see lots of blaming or people avoiding accountability for their actions.

When trust is lacking, your employees don’t work well together. Communication is often poor, and there can be a general negativity in the company culture.


What trust looks like in the workplace

A high-trust workplace is a collaborative environment where colleagues interact with one another easily. The manager is available when employees need support, and colleagues communicate well within their teams and between departments.


Everyone knows what to expect since you’ve established consistency and support consistent communication. The overall team culture is a positive one without finger-pointing or blaming.


How to build trust in a team with employees and new hires

Building trust with employees and new hires supports a positive team culture, which can improve overall performance. Here are some ideas on how to build trust in a team.


Lead by example

When figuring out how to build trust in a team, don’t forget to lead by example. Start by trusting your employees to do their job without micromanaging or doubting them. Offering trust without expecting employees to prove themselves first establishes a trusting, safe environment.


You can also build trust by acting in a trustworthy manner. Follow through when you say you’re going to do something. When you set expectations for the team, hold yourself to those same standards. Admitting when you mess up can also help build trust with your employees.


Example: When you make a mistake, own up to it. This shows your employees that there’s room for error within your company. They’re more likely to take chances that can help your business grow when they know that it’s okay to make mistakes.


Set expectations

Let your team know what you expect from them upfront. If they have to guess what standards they’re trying to meet, they’re likely to feel frustrated. It can also feel like some employees get preferential treatment or that there’s no consistency if you don’t have clear expectations for everyone. New hires might struggle to understand how they fit in or how things work.


Example: Develop a thorough, clear employee handbook that highlights your company’s philosophies and goals as well as your policies and procedures. Clear policies that you apply consistently show that everyone is held to the same standards. This can be especially helpful for new hires who are still learning how everything works.


Be transparent

Being secretive about your company’s mission, latest projects and other information can breed mistrust. There might be certain information you can’t share with the full team, but being as transparent as possible shows your team that you have nothing to hide and that you trust them with important information.


Sometimes, you might withhold information without realizing it. You might simply forget to share information or not realize that withholding certain information seems suspicious. Focus on improving your communication and encouraging other team members to do the same.


Example: Set up specific communication channels that allow you to be transparent. That might mean using a collaboration tool where you can communicate with a team or sending out weekly emails with updates on projects. Get consistent with those communications to improve transparency.


Get to know your team

It’s tough to trust someone if you know nothing about them. Your employees might have a hard time trusting you if you have very few interactions with them. Get in the habit of stopping by your employees’ desks just to check in without a specific agenda. Show interest in them outside of work.


Planning bonding activities helps you get to know your employees, and it helps them learn more about each other. This could be team-building activities during the workday or after-hours activities for bonding.


Example: Schedule a team meal after hours once per month that doesn’t revolve around work. Use it as a time to build relationships and get to know your team better.


Support your team

A big part of trust is letting your employees know you have their backs. Being supportive takes many shapes, including making sure they have the resources they need to be successful. Touch base with your team regularly to ensure they feel supported and have the tools they need.


Giving your employees recognition for their accomplishments can also create a supportive, trusting environment. It shows that you recognize those individual or group efforts, and you’re not taking credit for the team’s success yourself.


Example: Scheduling one-on-one meetings with your direct reports is an opportunity to talk about their needs and make sure they’re being met. Ask your employees if they have the tools and support necessary. Ask if you can do more to make them feel supported.


Address trust issues

Even when you’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to build trust in a team, there could be a situation that jeopardizes it. The issue could be something you did, or it could be another team member who breaks trust with their colleagues.


When you notice a trust issue, don’t ignore the situation. It can be uncomfortable to address issues, especially if it could cause conflict. However, ignoring the obvious trust issues only makes mistrust grow more.


Example: Say you handle employees who show up late inconsistently. Some people get a free pass, while others get reprimanded for being late. When this issue is brought to your attention, start by reviewing your attendance policies and clarifying them if needed. Address the inconsistencies and the issue of being late with the team. Move forward by handling the situation the same for all employees to help rebuild trust.


Team trust FAQs


How do you build trust in a remote team?

Being in different locations makes teamwork and trust-building more challenging. Accountability becomes more difficult when you’re all not in the same room, which can make people question how much work other team members are doing.


Here are some ways you can build trust with your remote team:

  • Use a communication tool like Slack or Trello to encourage constant communication.
  • Provide more information than normal to keep everyone on the same page.
  • Hold virtual team-building activities to get to know one another better.
  • Schedule regular contact with virtual team meetings and one-on-ones.
  • Check in to make sure staff members have the support they need.

What is psychological safety, and how does it help build trust?

A study by Google showed that psychological safety was the most important aspect of creating an effective team. Psychological safety within a team means that the team members feel safe taking risks without fear of negative reactions from their teammates.


When psychological safety is high, your employees feel comfortable sharing ideas or owning up to their mistakes. They know they won’t be punished or ridiculed for taking those risks. Increased risk-taking can improve productivity and encourage innovative approaches to normal business activities.


What contributes to low levels of team trust?

Team trust takes time to build, but any trust you’ve built can be damaged quickly with a single event. It could be something major, such as a massive organizational change or sudden and expansive layoffs. A single person could also break trust. A supervisor taking credit for an employee’s work is one example.


Lack of trust can also come from the overall culture and the way you run the business regularly. If you don’t listen, never follow through, avoid taking responsibility for your actions, act inconsistently or never tell your team what’s happening with the company, it’s tough for them to trust you. Likewise, if there’s a highly competitive culture to the point of employees turning on each other, taking credit for other people’s work or sabotaging work, there’s little room for trust.


Once trust is broken, it’s difficult to rebuild. Focus on building trust on a team before it falls apart to keep your company productive and your employee morale high.