According to Randstad’s research, which was mentioned in yesterday’s article, 92 per cent of employees say a trusted brand valued by peers is an important or very important attribute when considering a new employer.

This is an interesting finding because it highlights the growing importance of peer endorsement in decision-making.

Trust in informal networks

The speed of global communication and the rise of social media have made “peer influence” increasingly powerful. Just as trust in the hierarchy is declining, trust in informal networks is growing rapidly.

With credibility so critical to establishing trust, quality informal networks perceived to have no hidden agenda are becoming highly trusted sources.

Recognising this trend, 75 per cent of employers across the Asia-Pacific agree that online social and professional networks should be part of any organisation’s strategy to attract talent, yet just 30 per cent use them as part of their talent attraction strategy today.

Of these, most are participating in high-trust activities such as promoting their employer brand (45 per cent) or creating industry networks (31 per cent), but a third could be seen to be pursuing low-trust activities, such as screening job applicants.

There is one thing we can be certain of — trust has gone viral, and it is hard to build trust in a vacuum.

Do your staff trust your company?

Being absent from the networks and forums that people trust can in itself promote distrust in your employer brand.

While the trust deficit will impact an organisation’s ability to attract new talent, it also plays a huge role in retaining existing employees.

Three-quarters of employers say improving employee retention is a strategic goal, though 30 per cent expect turnover to increase in the next 12 months.

However, those predictions may underestimate the anticipated scale of employee mobility across the region.

More than half of employees intend to leave their job in the next 12 months and for over a third of these (35 per cent), lack of opportunity for growth and advancement is the main reason — well ahead of concerns about salary and remuneration.

This suggests thousands of employees across the Asia-Pacific do not trust their employers to look after them, help them achieve career goals and reach their potential.

These findings demonstrate the real cost of low trust in organisations.

Consequences of low trust

Low trust creates hidden agendas, politics, interpersonal conflict, win-lose thinking and protective communication.

In a low-trust climate, everything slows down. Ultimately, it creates disengagement and unwanted employee turnover, which in turn causes low morale and impacts productivity.

With over a third of employees admitting they would not recommend their current employer as a great place to work, it is not surprising that business leaders say establishing a reputation as a trusted employer is the single biggest priority for their employer brand in the year ahead.

Benefits of high trust

A high-trust climate promotes open communication, loyalty, accountability and continuous learning — creating an atmosphere where engaged and talented people aspire to leadership roles.

It also nurtures the respect, passion and commitment required to change mindsets and make people believe in the organisation’s mission.

It is this belief that has the power to inspire employees, peers and customers.

Business leaders and employees across the Asia-Pacific are in agreement that the ability to motivate and inspire others is the single biggest attribute that defines a successful leader, yet a leader without trust has no one to inspire.

Just as employees switch off when they are disappointed by their leaders, pride in their workplace and its mission is a potent motivator.

Over half of employees (56 per cent) surveyed say a strong feeling of being valued and recognised, along with understanding how their role contributes to achieving organisational goals, are the biggest motivators to perform well.

High-trust leaders know how to tap into these motivators to boost productivity and morale. They work with managers and frontline staff to develop individual career paths based on employee strengths and goals.

Individual performance — in line with company values — is recognised and rewarded in a meaningful way.

The management team communicates openly and there is consistent transparency about company goals.

Creating high-trust leadership starts with self-trust and it starts at the top.

Chief executive officers and senior leaders must focus on building credibility — for themselves, their brands and their people.

Without trust, leaders cannot lead.