We’re pleased to announce the 150 Best Workplaces in Europe in 2023. And while these companies vary in size, sector, approach, and perspective, they all have one thing in common: their leaders are Pioneers of Trust.
These are leaders who do things differently, and who understand that culture is a major factor in a company’s success. True pioneers who act with empathy and lead by example. But isn’t trust intangible? Are there actually pragmatic and effective ways to increase trust within an organisation? There are. And it all begins in the hearts and minds of leadership.
Building the foundation
Becoming a Pioneer of Trust begins from within. These unconventional leaders have confidence in themselves, which helps them effectively build stronger one-on-one relationships and cultivate interpersonal relationships in group settings by stepping outside of the ‘typical leader’ mold. They use creativity, flexibility, and new approaches to build a foundation of credibility, respect, and honesty. And from there, a culture of trust grows organically – and yet intentionally – throughout the organisation.
Effective and bold leadership is the trademark of Pioneers of Trust. And consistency is the key to ensuring impact. Every aspect of the company culture, from the core values to the development programs, and from the team outings to the innovation process, are opportunities to build and maintain trust. Every single interaction, every relationship, every program and process, can contribute to a culture of trust. And any area that is neglected can slowly chip away at that trust.
Paving the way
The highest ranking companies in Europe have unlocked the formula for both establishing and maintaining trust within their organisations. Leadership considers new and unique approaches to ensure they remain accountable, transparent, and available to an ever-evolving team of employees. They find creative ways to recognise and acknowledge their teams. And they provide consistency by ensuring all systems, processes, policies, and frameworks align with the objective of building and promoting trust within the organisation. Customers feel that trust in every interaction with the company.
These activities may look and feel different from one company to the next: one company builds trust through easy-to-use feedback and response systems. The other through ensuring that C-level leadership regularly interacts and connects with employees at every level of the organisation. Whatever it takes for employees to feel that their leaders and company are credible and trustworthy, the Pioneers of Trust are ready and willing to explore it until they find the right balance for their specific organisation.
Feeling the impact
Our data shows that creating a culture of trust in your organisation will certainly give you happier, more productive employees. They’ll feel more free to speak up, to dare, to innovate. They’ll work harder and with more enthusiasm. They’ll take fewer sick days and will be more focused at work. They’ll be eager to collaborate with their colleagues and creatively solve challenges. And they’ll be proud to work for you.
But we also see significant financial benefits from a culture of trust. Research by Alex Edmans has also found investing in workers and developing great cultures leads to long-term business success, with top-performing organisations outperforming the stock market by 2%-3% per year.
Building the trust
Want to build trust in your own organisation? It starts with you. With your focus, attention, and imagination. With your willingness to be vulnerable and empathetic. Your commitment to work at it every day, in both big and small ways. In major policies and minor interactions. In what you say and do. And it will all take time. Give yourself time to build your culture. But also, give your employees the time to offer their opinions, consider their choices and process information. Trust isn’t created in a day. And true pioneers know that the only way to succeed is to keep trying.
Be sure to continuously reflect on your own behavior and that of your senior leadership. Do you walk the talk every day? Do you interact closely with your teams and demonstrate that you trust them? Do you act in a trustworthy manner, with empathy and understanding, at all times? Then, you’re well on your way. Next, with openness and humility, with honest and genuine social interaction and a healthy serving of tolerance and openness, you can explore ways to bring a truly unique flavour of trust to your organisation. Establish programs your employees truly appreciate. Offer incentives that make their day. Create an atmosphere where diversity is celebrated and creativity is rewarded. Make your culture visible to your customers. Then, you will begin to establish yourself as a future Pioneer of Trust.
View the 2023 Europe's Best Workplaces winners.