Building a Culture of Trust and Belonging

Studies have consistently shown that companies that encourage a positive and strong culture perform better compared to those that don’t.

This is not a surprise as a strong culture encourages collaboration and communication and enhances inclusivity.

It also fosters a sense of pride and belonging, which in turn improves loyalty, motivation, and hard work. 

If a company wants to encourage productivity and collaboration, then building a positive culture should not be up for debate.

Even more important the culture of trust and belonging is needed. 

Besides, the modern worker is looking for more than compensations and perks in an ideal workspace.

At this time when there is a real struggle for talent, companies need to deliberately work hard in retaining their employees by giving them values that money can’t buy.

So, where do you start building a culture of trust and belonging? In the paragraphs below, we go over the ten important things you should do to create a culture of trust in your company.

Building a Culture of Trust

1-Allow a flexible schedule

Many people struggle in finding a good work-life balance, and oftentimes, these two collide. When an employee carries life stresses at work, his or her performance is bound to suffer, and vice versa is true.

Ideally, if employees are allowed a flexible schedule, it can go a long way in improving the work-life balance.

Allow the employees to work where they feel productive, and encourage them to work in environments that increase their productivity also helps. Whether it is from home or a coworking space, give them that freedom to choose.

Besides increasing productivity, you will be communicating to the employee that you trust him or her to create his or her own schedule and deliver results as required.

2-Encourage interactions

It is hard to really know a person well when you are locked up in a cubicle or working 60 feet away from each other. It is good to note that face-to-face encounters encourage communication, relationships and a sense of community

Be deliberate in creating opportunities for people to interact in the workplace. For starters, you can knock down the walls to create an open-plan office where people sit in close proximity. Create a break room where conversations are encouraged when employees meet during a coffee break.

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3-Give feedback the right way

Giving feedback is one way that employees feel that what they are doing is valued. They also feel cherished in that the managers are willing to offer guidelines that will make them better in their careers.

However, this can only happen if the feedback is honest and done in the right way. Giving feedback without explaining your points tends to feel like a one-sided monologue. Ensure that you sit down with employees and highlight your reasons for your feedback. Be sure to listen to their opinion and seek to clarify why your idea is different from theirs.

When you and your teams genuinely work together, there is a shared sense of respect and inclusivity.

Context: Collaborative feedback becomes valuable when it is actionable, emphasizing the importance of gathering quality feedback from employees. It’s crucial to ensure that the collection, storage, and analysis of team feedback is conducted in a systematic and efficient manner.
Tip: Doubtful about the effectiveness of your surveys as a measurement tool? Consider conducting a psychometric assessment. For a deeper understanding, refer to this article: “Understanding Psychometrics Assessments.”

4-Celebrate each other

Celebrating important moments in employees’ lives not only shows them that they are cherished but also creates a sense of belonging.

Celebrating workplace achievements can significantly strengthen a culture of trust and belonging. Acknowledging employee milestones or project completions with personalized trophies not only recognizes individual efforts but also fosters a collective sense of pride and achievement within the team.   

Starts making the employees feel valued from the onboarding. You can successfully do this by giving a welcoming gift such as a t-shirt, appointing a peer to show the new hire around the company, and helping them build social relationships.

In addition, celebrate each other’s birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and any other pivotal moments.

5-Encourage vulnerability

Everyone is vulnerable to life events and sometimes life’s challenges hinder workplace performance. However, if you work in a place where employees are encouraged to share their personal challenges in a healthy way, such situations have less impact on performance. Besides, it creates a sense of trust in that you can share your problems without the fear of being victimized.

Leaders can encourage this by sharing their personal struggles as well. When you allow employees into your personal space, you are setting the pace for a strong community based on trust.

6-Let them know their contribution

An organization that is centered on assigning tasks to individuals without really bringing everyone together fails terribly in fostering a sense of belonging. Assigning tasks without making employees understand their contribution to the company goals only makes them feel like work machines. They work, submit their work, and wait for the next assignment, and the cycle continues. Such employees never feel like part of the company and are more likely to switch ship when an opportunity presents itself.

Create a system where you sit down with your team to discuss how projects align with the company goals and objectives. You can then make everyone understand how his or her role helps in attaining these goals. Allow them the chance to air their views on the best approaches towards projects and actually put their suggestions into considerations. Doing such makes everyone appreciate each other’s role, encouraging teamwork. Knowing that they are working towards a common goal, everyone will be willing to invest in their colleagues’ growth and development.

7-Keep your promises

A lot has been said about listening to what employees have to say. One area that is critical in encouraging employees to speak up is the challenges that they are facing in the workplace.  For employees to be satisfied and work optimally, they need to be comfortable with the workspace as well as the business processes that they undertake each day. That is why it is important to always ensure that each one of them is working under their desired conditions.

A tendency with most employers is that they listen and make promises to improve on the suggested areas, but fail to keep these promises. This is one culprit of killing trust in the workplace. Even as you make promises, be realistic on what can be done and the timeline it can take to implement. If you promise to do something, ensure that you do it as soon as you can.

8-Be upfront about issues

Issues affecting the whole organization rise up all the time in the business world. However, most managers tend to keep them to themselves until the time they feel it right to inform the employees. Unfortunately, in most cases, this happens on short notice to employees, especially if it is a change that needs to be implemented. You may be tempted to think you are preventing some sort of chaos and disruption that comes with such issues. However, you only risk losing trust with your employees especially if the secret leaks out before you tell them.

It is important to be upfront with your employees about any arising issues. Do your best to explain to them how their work will be affected and assure them of your support if it is needed. In addition, allow them to ask questions. Seek to answer them honestly and truthfully as much as possible. This not only saves the trust between you and your employees but also makes them feel included, which cultivates a culture of belonging.

9-Reward performances

Employees are happy when they know that they are contributing something towards the realization of the company’s goals and objects. Moreover, they are especially happy when they know that their hard work and exemplary performances are appreciated and rewarded. Make it a habit to recognize outstanding performances regularly. It is a great way of encouraging people to work at their best.

To create a culture of trust in this aspect, however, you need to create a fair playing ground for everyone. It is possible that you have favorites among your team members. However, you should be careful not to have this cloud your judgment. Give rewards purely on merit and not personal preference. Ensure that you include everyone including remote workers if you have any. Your team members will know it when you favor someone, and it can be detrimental in trust culture at the workplace.

10-Allow failure

Your team is diverse with great thinkers, innovators, and creative individuals. All these skills are essential in moving your business forward. However, you can only benefit from these talents if you encourage your staff to exercise them, and that includes giving room for failure.

Be the leader who guides his employees through a setback they encounter in the course of their work. Show them that failures are a good way to learn, and help them pick out the lessons that come with it. Your employees will trust you more when they see you supporting them. In addition, the ability to make mistakes and not be crucified for it goes a long way in instilling a sense of belonging with the organization.


Employees observe your behavior to see if you are living as per what you are preaching to them. You need to build trust by doing exactly what you are preaching day in and out.

If you want the teamwork is enhanced in your team, be in the frontline to showcase this to them. Collaborate with people across teams, encourage dialogue and suggestions, and do what it takes to show teamwork enhances productivity and results.  When you consistently lead by example, you will be building a culture of trust in the workplace.

In addition, if you manage remote workers, you need to put in the necessary efforts to make them feel like part of the larger organization. For instance, celebrate their pivotal moments with them by sending gifts, and conduct virtue happy hours among others.

Team building activities and building a culture of trust should be on top of any CEO and manager’s agenda.

This article on Building a culture of trust was written by Rachel Eleza for the Collaboration Corner with editorial correction and additions done by Dan Smilganic.

Dan Smiljanić

Dan is a practitioner of project management and our resident geek. With a background in computer science, Dan is the lead product tester at Binfire. When Dan not writing code, you will probably find him cycling and hiking with friends.

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