Five ways your HR team can build trust with employees
26 January 2021

Five ways your HR team can build trust with employees

How can HR improve employee experience? The answer lies in building trust through open communication and transparency


Maryam Munir

Maryam Munir

Maryam Munir worked as a content marketing writer at Ciphr from 2019 to 2021, specialising in topics related to HR systems, recruitment, payroll software, and learning and development.


Employee engagement Leadership and management


How can HR improve employee experience? The answer lies in building trust through open communication and transparency

How many employees in your organisation do you think to trust the HR department, and how many do you think feel neglected by HR?

For employees who aren’t in senior positions, it can be easy to feel like the HR department isn’t on their side, but it’s now time for HR to take action to improve their relationship and improve employee trust.

Without trust in HR teams, employee experience can suffer.

Employees are less likely to approach HR with their issues and keep their problems to themselves. In order to help employees feel like their organisation values them, HR teams have to make sure they listen to employees and build a relationship that encourages employees to turn to HR with their issues. If HR wants to retain talent and have a happy workforce, they need to build trust.

Here are some strategies for building trust and the first steps that you can take.

1. Communicate openly with employees

It’s impossible for HR teams to build trust in the workplace without improving communication.

To improve communication, HR should outline company policies, practices, and strategies in ways that employees will understand. Be clear about what the company expects of employees and what they can expect from the company.

During staff meetings, HR must listen and acknowledge employees opinions so that workers know that what they have to say is of value to your HR team.  Meetings with employees allow HR to hear any concerns, ideas, or feedback and respond accordingly (with the appropriate action if needed).

When working remotely, HR teams might not be able to see employees in person, but video calls ensure that communication is still present. As a result, HR should make sure to contact employees when working remotely to see how they are doing, and if they have any concerns.

Employee engagement platforms – like Peakon and Thymometrics – can help organisations drive meaningful change through employee feedback.

Open communication between HR and employees can help employees know that they have someone to turn to if they have any issues, improving employee experience as a result.

2. Build a fair and inclusive workplace

Autonomy, a fair and equitable workplace, challenging work, recognition, flexibility, and a company’s commitment to social responsibility may be strong motivators towards improving trust. Find out what inspires your employees and develop policies, practices, and benefits accordingly.

If you hire one or two diverse employees, employees will determine that you’re only interested in keeping up appearances and lose trust in you – so your HR team should strive to build an authentically diverse workforce.

To build a fair, inclusive workplace, HR should first address its hiring processes by making sure that they are free of bias. Hiring candidates without bias playing a part can show employees that there is no discrimination in their workplace, making them more likely to feel comfortable with HR.

HR also need to ensure all employees are paid fairly when compared with other employees in your company and take all complaints seriously.

HR leaders must make sure all HR employees are trained upon how employment laws impact your business and how to properly respond to employee complaints, conduct effective investigations, handle leave requests, and manage other important responsibilities. 

3. Be transparent with employees

When the HR department is more transparent, the employees themselves will share more.

Research has found that one of the chief ways in which leaders can be building and maintaining trust is to show vulnerability.

In the current climate, HR teams are having to take on new responsibilities and employees are experiencing changes to the way they work. To help employees trust HR during these difficult times, HR should be open and vulnerable with employees about the challenges they/the organisation is facing. This in turn can encourage staff to share, collaborate and innovate.

By being transparent with employees, employees can better understand HR teams and their decisions and can work with them instead of against them.

4. Prioritise confidentiality

Keep private matters private and honour employee confidentiality no matter what. This includes refraining from sharing private information with company leadership without employee consent. Unless there are legal concerns, the employee should never feel like you’re going to betray their trust with anyone at the company, from top to bottom.

HR teams work with large amounts of sensitive employee data which needs to be protected. In some areas, transparency with employees is key, but in other areas – where employee information is involved – HR has to remain discreet and make sure information is kept confidential.

If employee details were to be accidentally leaked by HR, trust in HR would fall significantly. By keeping all data safe and secure, employees can trust HR to look after sensitive information as their job requires.

By investing in HR software, HR teams can receive support in protecting sensitive data – HR software can store all information in one secure system, removing the need for paper files in storing cabinets.

5. Introduce employee wellness programmes

HR teams should be aware that not all employees feel comfortable talking to HR about their concerns, whether they trust them or not. As a result, HR must work to earn employees trust by giving employees the tools and contacts they need to receive relevant support or guidance.

PWC reported 58% of employees to admit they’re stressed about their finances while half of the stressed employees say finances have been a distraction at work. HR teams should therefore introduce financial wellness programs to reduce financial worry.

If employees are suffering from mental health issues – which have risen during the pandemic – HR should ensure that an employee assistance program (EAP) is in place to support these employees and should direct employees to the support available.

By doing so, employees can discover that your HR team truly cares for employees and wants to support them in any way possible and improve employee retention.