Recently, I had the pleasure of hosting 20 Chicago-based communications, marketing and human resources professionals at Trust Over Easy, a breakfast brainstorm based on insights from The Employer Advantage, the employee experience-focused supplement to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer.

Increasingly, many of our clients are embracing bottoms-up strategic planning, bringing employees together to take on strategic challenges across organizational silos. Inspired by this departure from the traditional top-down leadership cascade, we designed this year’s event as a series of small group discussions. Using findings from the study as conversation springboards, peers from a variety of industries crowd-sourced solutions to common challenges in their own organizations.

For example, the study uncovered the surprising fact that 72 percent of employees trust their employer to do what is right. This unexpected bright spot in a distrustful world is even more pronounced in the U.S., where a full 79 percent of the workforce trusts their organization. But discussions at the event revealed that many organizations are struggling to unleash the full power of this employer advantage. Many participants said it’s an uphill battle convincing leaders and mid-level managers to make time for building relationships and trust with their teams. “Sharing information and creating dialogue so often gets deprioritized behind running the business,” explained one internal communicator. This challenge led to a rich exchange of ideas for building trust internally, including:

  • Import a tried-and-true tactic from the manufacturing floor – the shift huddle – and apply it to office environments in the form of weekly stand-up meetings. The physical act of standing means meetings move quickly and get teams ready to take on the week in less than 15 minutes.
  • Issue weekly challenges to leaders – ranging from “invite someone from a different department to coffee” to “designate at least 30 minutes each day as ‘office hours’ and make yourself available for one-on-one conversations without an agenda or scheduled meeting.”
  • Start at the top and host “ask me anything”-style discussions with the CEO and executive team, with no topic off-limits.
  • Kick off performance reviews by showing how leaders are walking the talk. One brave executive shared her own performance review with the entire organization to demonstrate being open to feedback and personal growth.  

More details are available in The Employer Advantage full study results, and the executive summary includes key takeaways and recommendations.

Tamara Snyder is an executive vice president, Employee Experience, Chicago.