Related to and stemming from transparency is honesty. Employees stay when they see honesty and integrity as company values. Lack of trust in leadership severely damages retention.
Telltale signs that your practices are creating a trust gap include:
- Policy changes or decisions made without explanation
- Perks taken away without reason or input
- Pay or hiring inequities without remedy
- Refusal to share business challenges transparently
- Punishing dissenting perspectives as disloyal
- Scapegoating certain employees or teams
- Leadership not holding themselves accountable
In working with hundreds of clients over the years, we have seen the tremendous damage that forms when a "trust gap" emerges between leadership and employees. This trust gap, fueled by a lack of transparency from upper management, creates cynicism that corrodes company culture and retention.
The trust gap widens with each instance of leadership concealing information, refusing to explain decisions, or giving empty platitudes without follow-through. Employee skepticism builds with every project implemented seemingly without rationale, policy changed on a whim, or corporate double-speak email.
Absent honest communication, employees fill information voids with their own interpretations, whether accurate or not. Rumors run rampant, assuming the worst of leaders' motives. Engagement and morale sink as commitments ring hollow. Talent retention suffers as workers feel unvalued.
Restoring trust where a gap has formed takes tireless effort and commitment to transparency from executives. It requires asking difficult questions, listening without defensiveness, and signaling openness through words and actions consistently.
The Transparency Mindset
Managers must embody the mindset that transparency is not just a slogan, but a daily practice. They must recognize how closely watched their every communication is for authenticity, candor and respect for employees.
Work cultures bank on trust. But trust unfailingly flows from transparency. Savvy executives understand honest communication - surrounding both company successes and challenges - builds credibility with employees, not overnight, but through steady reliability. Authenticity cannot be faked.
Bridging the trust gap plagues many enterprises. If it can be done, however, it pays dividends in the form of engaged, invested employees for the long haul. There are no shortcuts.
Trust erodes when actions contradict policies, values and promises. Double standards breed cynicism. Employees need to feel safe speaking up without fear of retaliation. Companies should minimize hierarchy and seek diverse input.
Allow employees to skip the chain of command with regular skip-level meetings. This practice can also stave off lawsuits. When employees have a clear line of complaint, they are more apt to bring problems to the company for solutions.
Use your HR function, outsourced HR Department, or a human resources consultant to create a plan that will get you out of the mire of distrust and back to a place where employees feel heard and valued.
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Joseph Campagna, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is president and owner of My Virtual HR Director, a human resources outsourcing company serving small and medium sized businesses nationwide. My Virtual HR Director provides an executive level HR advisor to companies that can’t afford or can’t justify hiring a fulltime HR professional on staff.
With twenty years of experience dedicated to the HR profession, Mr. Campagna has honed his skills as an expert in compliance, talent management and employee relations. Bringing human capital management experience from start-ups, IT and biotechnology companies, employee leasing, and fortune 100 behemoths Mr. Campagna has filled his tool belt through generalist work, executive positions, and consulting opportunities with companies such as ADP, Merrill Lynch, and Johnson & Johnson. As Vice President of HR for biotech company Hemo Concepts, as well as the head of HR for the global IT solutions company, the Galaxy Group, Mr. Campagna created rich and successful organizational development and employee engagement programs.
Having worked with a diverse group of companies and clients in a broad spectrum of industries and environments, he brings a unique HR philosophy to every organization he works with. “HR is not the picnic department,” he says “but instead bears the full responsibility and the unlimited potential for a highly productive and efficient workforce. If HR systems are successful, the organization’s revenue should be increased.” From mergers and acquisitions, to IPO’s, to new product development, to divestiture Mr. Campagna has a true business background to support his HR Architecture.
Mr. Campagna is certified as a senior professional through both the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The HRCI designation of Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) is an experienced-based examination certification. The SHRM certification is a competency based examination certification. Each is a premier designation in the world of HR and recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management of which Joe is a national member and former chapter president.
Mr. Campagna brings decades of helping small and medium sized businesses create HR structures such as employee handbooks, performance systems, talent management, training programs, and employee engagement. He knows how to deliver business results through HR aligned objectives.
Nearly 30 years of expertise and HR executive authority combined with a group health insurance license and certifications from the Society for Human Resource management and the Human Resources Certification Institute have given Joseph Campagna the guru status that has earned him leadership roles, board of director roles, and speaking engagements related to human resources.