To get the most out of your employees, in any climate, trust is a key factor. The COVID-19 crisis has impacted all areas of life. For many businesses, it has required them to hastily implement new ways of working and adapt to a new, socially-distanced, reality. But how does remote working alter the trust dynamic between employer and employee?

This unprecedented situation has forced many organisations to give employees an autonomy that has never been experienced to this extent before. However, if you think that having a disparate workforce might cause employees to be disengaged, the results may surprise you. Recent research by Bersin and Willis Towers Watson suggests that 84% of companies believe their employee engagement has gone up as a result of the pandemic. Personally, I would put this down to organisations increasing communications during these times of uncertainty.

Part of adapting to this pandemic has made organisations take a step back and realise that they need to trust their employees in order to keep them engaged. When we look back at this time, I’m sure the organisations who come out of this crisis best will be the ones who had already established a culture of trust, but it’s not too late to build one. As with any relationship, trust (or lack thereof) is a two-way street. As well as trusting your employees, they need to trust their employer. If you’re not authentic with your workforce, why should they believe what you are saying? And further to that, why would they pay attention?

In the post COVID-19 era trust is only going to become more important as we continue to explore new ways of working. It is likely that employers will require track and trace apps to help identify those who have come into contact with a confirmed case. Some companies, such as PWC, are already investing in this and even trialling early versions. Asking employees to input personal details requires a level trust they may not be used to. A strong culture of trust and respect is vital to integrating these apps into the ‘new normal’.

There is an easy way to do this: make sure you communicate with employees ahead of implementation, not after. This will help them to understand the purpose of the software and trust that the organisation has their best interests at heart.

Regular, transparent communications that cut through the noise, rather than add to it, are the foundation of a relationship based on mutual trust and respect; and are therefore vital to prevent the grapevine filling in the gaps for you. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that a lack of communication can damage a company’s culture, reduce trust and decrease engagement.

If you want help with your COVID-related communications get in touch with the Internal Communications and Engagement team at internalcomms@ruderfinn.co.uk