Every year, Fortune releases a list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. It has become the gold standard in employer-employee relations, and the evaluation system has diagnosed and predicted global trends in workplace operations for decades.
One of the main metrics used in the Fortune list is the Great Place to Work® Trust Model©, which surveys employees about their confidence in their higher-ups and organization as a whole. When the metric’s creators list the three most important components of employee satisfaction, “trust the people they work for” is at the top.
“After 20 years of studying the experiences of more than 10 million employees annually in over 50 countries, Great Place to Work has found a trust-based culture to be a strong driver of successful business,” explains one report.
This assertion is backed by external data too, and many researchers have noted direct, quantifiable benefits to strong employee trust:
- Employees with low trust in their teams, organizations, partners or customers work slower and cost more.
- Employees at high-trust organizations report being 50 percent more productive than those at low trust companies.
- Trustworthy companies outperform the
Trust is particularly essential in the contact center. When a caller interacts with an agent, he or she must trust that the call will be handled promptly, that all information is secure and that the agent is sharing accurate information. If an agent does not have faith in the competence or reliability of the organization, the customer can pick up on this uncertainty and may assume the interaction or information is faulty. Because power imbalances make people uneasy, establishing confidence between managers and employees may not be easy. Fortunately, there are some basic but reliable ways to improve employee trust in your organization:
Be fair and consistent. When employees are worried about favoritism, they share their suspicions and underperform. In addition to arranging frequent, constructive one-on-ones, managers should empower employees with automated self-scheduling or bidding processes to eliminate the possibility of unfair treatment.
Ensure transparency. You will inevitably make decisions that upset your employees. Whether it’s turning down a vacation request or assigning an agent a task he or she doesn’t enjoy doing, the more open and transparent you are about the process, the more the agent will respect your decision. Give employees insight into their performance data, and keep them informed of trends and change within the larger organization.
Set a good example. Trust is a two-way street, so as a manager you should take the first steps and extend trust to your agents first. Take equal responsibility for team failures, and don’t mislead them. It will show your team that you value their contributions and that you take equal responsibility for performance outcomes.
Build relationships. It’s hard to trust a stranger. Be friendly, and create a positive and familiar environment in the contact center. Schedule regular meetings and coaching sessions to get to know your employees, and use digital chat tools to engage remote employees and keep in contact throughout the day.
Ensuring trust in the contact center is a challenge, but it is an important component of success. Customers need to trust agents, employees need to trust management and managers need to trust their subordinates. Any break in this system can disrupt the workplace and diminish ROI.
Paul Chance is a senior product marketing manager for NICE Workforce Management (WFM), the leading software solution used by contact centers to digest the complexity of their organizations and produce precise forecasts and clear action. For more information, visit www.nice.com/engage/workforce-optimization/workforce-management.