Employee motivation: is trust the answer?

27 August 2013

Workplace trust

If you are looking to boost employee motivation, building up a mutual trust between managers and workers is essential.

But how do you create an atmosphere of trust in the workplace, especially at a time when many companies are making cutbacks and redundancies?

The Jacobs model, devised by employee engagement expert Susanne Jacobs, identifies eight drivers of trust: belong and connect, voice and recognition, significance and position, fairness, learn and challenge, choice and autonomy, security and certainty and purpose, which, combined with a number of environmental factors, can have a significant impact on employees’ wellbeing.


Workplace Trust: An infographic by the team at Unum UK

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Are you creating an environment of trust in your workplace?

Are you encouraging employees to be motivated and productive by showing that you trust them? Take our quick quiz to see if there’s more you can do…

1 – Are employees allowed to work flexible hours or from home?

a) Yes. By giving workers a degree of control over their working hours and location you are showing them you trust them.

b ) No. It might be worth reconsidering your policy on flexible working. People need to feel trusted in their working environment if they are to perform at their peak. Trusting people to manage their own workloads can help boost their performance.

2 – Do you offer staff opportunities for further training and development?

a) Yes. Research has shown that employees who feel challenged are often more productive.

b) No. You may wish to assess the training opportunities you offer. The workplace is constantly evolving and your workers’ skills need regularly updating to ensure they are keeping pace.

3 – Do you have a system which allows employees to provide feedback or put their ideas forward?

a) Yes. Listening to people’s views in the workplace makes them feel recognised and appreciated.

b)No. If workers feel unable to air their views then they feel unrecognised and threatened, and their performance is affected, introducing a system where they can feed back on company issues and make suggestions could help boost morale and trust levels.

4 – Are job roles clearly defined?

a) Yes. If workers have a clear sense of purpose they are more likely to be engaged and productive.

b) No. Creating a clearly defined career structure with all job roles on it can bring really benefits. If workers are unsure what their contribution is, they can feel threatened and their performance is negatively impacted.

Mostly yeses

You are clearly taking strides to build a trusting relationship between you and your employees, but there’s always room for improvement. Take a look at the eight drivers of trust in the above infographic and identify any areas you can build on.

Some yeses, some nos

You are taking some steps to create an atmosphere of trust in the workplace but there are still some changes you could make. Do you offer flexible working? Is there a training structure in place?

Mostly nos

Building an atmosphere of trust is essential to boosting employee motivation and productivity. The eight drivers of trust depicted in the infographic are a good starting point.