With all the impatience in the world today, human resources (HR) departments have had to take a good look in the mirror and try to see what the employees see.
Especially in recent years, employees seemed to be in two camps. They either felt HR was full of the most compassionate people ever, or they viewed HR as just the people hiding in their offices, disconnected from associates, and hired to find a reason to write someone up.
The decision to hit the HR reset button may be made swiftly, but making those changes and having them be acknowledged and accepted by employees is a gradual process. You won’t be an overnight success, but you can make a series of changes that show responsiveness to employee concerns. It can take more time to regain trust than it did to lose it.
Let’s look at some ways to restore trust in HR:
Listen respectfully to your employees. Employees want to feel heard and valued. Communication is a two-way street, and you’ll learn more by listening than by doing all the talking. Actually hear what they have to say.
Peel back the curtain. Employees want to know what is happening within their company. If you don’t fill in the blanks for them, they’ll speculate – and not always to your advantage. By being transparent, you’ll make employees part of the process. And they might surprise you. In one case, a company in recessionary times leveled with employees that cuts needed to be made and asked for ideas. The employees responded with such an abundance of ideas that all jobs were preserved. The looming layoffs were no longer a necessity, thanks to the voluntary belt-tightening ideas offered by the employees closest to the processes.
Transparency. Be more transparent than a sheet of glass and timely in your communication. Employees want to be part of the decision-making processes.
Sharing the plans that ownership has for the company, acknowledging challenges candidly, and offering insight into the company’s goals will help associates become more engaged and knowledgeable.
Inform employees of the organization’s current vision, mission and values. Organizations refocused some of their sentiments in recent years, so associates need to know from HR where the company stands now and what the aspirations are. This will enable them to know how to collaborate and feel safe doing so.
Encourage employees to share their thoughts and ideas and acknowledge their input. Offer an online forum or actual suggestion box where employees can offer their thoughts and ideas for consideration. Companies can save thousands of dollars through employee suggestions. Share the resulting savings with them.
Take action on feedback received. Acknowledge the feedback you receive from employees and take action when you feasibly can. Tackle the easy concerns first to demonstrate you’re keeping your word. Keep employees apprised of the status of other concerns that cannot be rectified overnight. Knowing that you’re working on it is reassuring.
Keep promises. Do what you say you will do. It can be harder than you think, but following through establishes credibility and gains trust.
Make connections. Some people see HR like an emergency room – a place to go only when there is an urgent concern. Establish wellness checks between managers and the employees they supervise to keep associates on the right track and redirect any concerns before they gain momentum. Advocating for more coaching provides opportunities for guidance, relationship building and troubleshooting. It enables employees to learn from each other. Feedback can strengthen relationships, lessen misunderstandings and realign misconceptions when all voices are heard.
Groom associates to grow. When employees know you are truly committed to helping them advance, they better realize their own roles in striving to make the grade. Perhaps it is up-skilling to remain relevant or preparing for the next position in the career path. Checking in with employees, helping them build a development plan, and monitoring the growth steps to goal fulfillment can help increase trust in HR.
Offer recognition and rewards. Some employees are fond of recognition. Others would rather remain under the radar. Even so, it sends a positive message to all when they see the company values associates by recognizing and rewarding them.
Spend time with employees. Walk around, be seen, and see how things are going. You’ll be viewed as more approachable if you meet people on their turf regularly.
Look at relationships beyond statistics. Data-driven reports provide a snapshot of a company’s business, but they don’t tell the full “why” an associate feels the way he does. Focusing more on employees and building relationships may send stats on an eventual upswing.
Create fun perks that make employees feel included. Ice cream socials seem simple, but small gestures and your realization that everyone needs a unifying break can make a big difference.
Care about associate total wellness. Offer well-being programs focusing on physical, emotional, mental, and financial wellness, etc., so employees realize you care about them away from work as well. Even if they are focusing only on current financial needs, knowing there are resources for long-term wealth management can be beneficial.
Some surveys have shown that CEOs tend to view HR performance more favorably than the managers and employees of those companies. By including employees in processes more often, that could change.