When it comes to maintaining the bridge between employers and employees in the workplace, trust is the resource that is being leveraged by more and more HR professionals. As workplaces evolve, HR professionals find that authoritarian methods of encouraging positive business communication skills between upper levels and front line staff fall short. Many supervisors have instead determined that the key to opening effective communication channels in the office lies not with draconian management policies, but instead with creating and propagating a workplace centered on mutual trust between executives and the workforce. How to foster trust Trust in the workplace is a product of mutual respect between administration and employees. Displaying respect for workers sends the message that their skills are valued, which has been demonstrated to lead to greater overall performance. A recent study published in The Accounting Review journal looked at the effect of offering employees a signing bonus in varying economic environments. Results uncovered a drastically increased level of trust reported by employees in management if bonuses were offered to employees, even in times of overabundant labor. According to the study, the average employee trust score was 85 out of a possible 100. In contrast, employees who were hired out of a market where labor was less available reported an average employee trust score of 53 out of 100. “Both employers’ and workers’ expectations may affect whether and how trust and reciprocity develop over time,” the University of Pittsburgh’s Jongwoon Choi wrote in the study. Thus the research found that economic offerings like a signing bonus can help establish the employer’s expectations for the employee,but in a way that encourages trust and good faith toward management. It’s also possible to maximize employee trust and cooperation through methods that are less material. In a recent talk at the Royal Society of Arts on employee drive and motivation, author Dan Pink discussed the role of autonomy in fostering a strong sense of drive among employees. A blogger writing for Forrester indicated that worker autonomy and other purpose-driven motivators can actually be more effective in the long run at cultivating a mutual trust and respect between corporate levels. Don’t be afraid to say no As a manager or HR professional, it may seem very tempting to gloss over bad news or otherwise keep it from employees. However, though it may initially seem counterintuitive, being forthcoming and direct with less than favorable news is reported to be a primary ingredient in fostering employee trust. Exchange Magazine recently reported that in his recent book, author Todd Patkin outlined the important role that transparency can play in gaining employee trust. “When you treat your people like responsible adults by being honest and open, they will appreciate your transparency,” Patkin told the news source. In fact, that type of transparency can lead to direct and measurable benefits, according to Patkin, as he added, “often, you’ll find that they’re willing to voluntarily double their efforts to help you turn the tide.” What this means for management It’s no secret that fostering an environment of greater trust between management and worker leads to a more pleasant and desirable workplace environment for employees. But studies have demonstrated real financial and profit benefits for employees as well. Forbes reported on a study from the Jackson Organization that revealed that companies enjoyed a threefold boost to profits and return on equity when they successfully worked to cultivate employee trust versus when they didn’t. The research cites examples like aluminum manufacturer Alcoa, a company that managed to increase profits by 500 percent over a 10-year period by instituting policies that directly addressed employee concerns such as safety and creating a more productive and harmonious workplace.