Coley Porter Bell's CEO, Vicky Bullen, wrote about trust in City AM: Employers take note: Trust is a two-way street

According to Edelman’s 2016 Trust Barometer, one in three employees don’t trust their employer.

Trust isn’t often discussed, but it’s critical because without it, you’re left with nothing but suspicion and cynicism – from both sides. Not only does this make for an awful working environment, but it can result in higher staff turnover and cripple your business. From employee confidence, to solving client issues, trust is a fundamental part of running a business. But how can employers implement and foster a culture of two-way trust?

Vision and values

Every business must be clear on its vision and values and trickle them down through every level. To gain trust, you must communicate what your business stands for and adhere to those values at every opportunity.

For us, our most important value is that we value each other. We are generous with our time as it’s only when people properly get to know their colleagues that trust begins to grow.

Trust is key to great team work, collaboration and the root of innovation – all things critical to business success. Valuing each other also means that we wholeheartedly celebrate when times are good, and console each other when times are difficult. Standing by your team through all weathers is key. This attitude not only builds trust, but allows people to be honest and open with each other; giving them confidence to discuss their concerns and celebrate successes.

We are all adults

All too often there is a sneaking feeling that when people aren’t visible in the office, they can’t be working as hard as those who are. In this day and age, agile working environments mean that people aren’t, and can’t be, at their desks all day. For that anxiety to disperse, trust is critical. Netflix famously introduced a policy that meant employees could take unlimited holiday. Was it a complete disaster? Quite the opposite. In fact, as Netflix’s Guide on Freedom & Responsibility Culture, states: “we should focus on what people get done, not how many hours or days are worked”.

Although offering unlimited holidays is impossible to implement in every business, the key point is trusting your employees to manage their own work load – and work/ life balance.

Work sometimes comes second

In a world where everyone is working long hours, taking limited lunch breaks, and being on call over the weekend, it’s crucial that employers support their employees’ burning passions – including those outside of work.

Some have a hobby or a regular class that they need to get to, and some have ambitious and exciting dreams.

Allowing people to fulfil their passions might seem one-way, but we’ve found as a business that if you invest in your staff’s dream, they bring that back to the business ten-fold.

Our annual initiative, Blue Skies, allows people to submit their personal creative dreams and the winner gets £2,500 and two weeks’ extra holiday to make it happen. Of course they could decide they want to leave to follow their dream full time, but they also might decide that they can implement what they’ve learnt into their day job. They might recognise – as we do – that an employer who trusts in them, believes in them and supports them in their passions, is worth working for.

As the slash generation emerges and people’s worlds are ever being opened up to a myriad of possibilities, we need to make sure that we don’t lose staff to the greener side of the fence, but instead that we are the greener side of the fence.


This was originally published in City AM.