Breaching the policy paradox: rebuilding trust in HR

The trust gap represents the figurative space between employees and HR. The trust serves as a critical ingredient for creating cohesive, agile teams and ensuring employee retention. However, building and maintaining trust is time-consuming, and setbacks can reset or exacerbate this gap.

The lost image of HR

Ongoing business restructuring and the adoption of hybrid-working models have placed companies in a continuous state of transformation. This calls for a flexible adaptation of HR policies and practices to stay in tune with the ever-changing objectives.

However, this evolving landscape of HR operations has, on occasion, prompted employees to perceive HR as prioritising the company's interests at the expense of their own.

Employee retention: How to earn employee trust and retain top talent

Employees are uncertain about HR's role and often seek guidance from their line managers instead.​

In addition, HR's pressure to prove its worth to the company, reluctance to intervene in ethical deviations, and inadequate marketing of their role contribute to their imperfect image.

With teams dispersed across different locations and occasional communication gaps, the stage is set for a potential employee engagement disaster.

Tech as a cornerstone of HR operations

The changes in working styles that came about during the pandemic inadvertently highlighted how fragmented the HR tech landscape was in most businesses, resulting in employees navigating multiple tools independently, leading to inefficiencies and increased resource demands.

A recent study from Applaud highlights that 77% of UK employees face a productivity crisis caused by dysfunctional HR tools.

This fragmentation and lack of a comprehensive digital employee experience strategy underscores the disconnect between investment decisions and the actual needs of employees.

To address this issue, organisations must consolidate systems into a user-friendly employee experience platform that simplifies HR processes and allows employees to focus on their roles while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

The streamlined approach better meets employee needs and facilitates improvements in internal practices.

A trust expert's advice on building a resilient culture

Creating transparent and open communication channels

An employee-centric HR portal can help to bridge the gap between the HR and employee perception issues.

For example, the ability to complete short anonymised surveys through the portal creates a safe space for employees and is a great opportunity for HR to demonstrate their commitment to better understanding their employees and improving the relationship.

Personalisation can also enhance the relevancy and quality of internal communications, considering factors such as employees' work location or personal and family situations.

A humanised approach to communication will maximise impact and encourage more engagement, fostering a sense of recognition among employees.

Building trust through benefits

In the pursuit of building trust, there's another important element for HR: employee benefits. As HR policies evolve to accommodate changing working models, it is crucial for employees to feel the organisation’s commitment to their wellbeing.

Comprehensive benefits are a tangible demonstration of this commitment, benefitting both employees and the organisation as a whole. When employees feel valued and supported through tailored benefits, they become more engaged, motivated, and loyal.

The employee trust contract has changed since February 2020

However, it's not just about having the right benefits in place to support employees' mental and financial wellbeing.

What’s equally important is ensuring active and transparent communication about the benefits available, how to access them, and the value they bring.

These details might not always be at the forefront of employees' minds, so establishing clear communication and straightforward access to these benefits is not only a cost-saving measure for the business but also a means to strengthen the relationship between employees and HR.

Enhancing skills development

Employees, as well as leaders, are increasingly eager to find opportunities to develop and improve their skills.

Leveraging HR technology for learning paths, employee development plans, and mentorship programmes enables leaders and employees to enhance their skill sets.

Simultaneously, it allows HR teams to strengthen the talent pool within the company and reduce attrition.

Employees inherently desire to feel cared for and valued, yearning for a genuine sense of belonging.

To lay a strong foundation for a wholesome employee experience, it is essential to enhance communication, cultivate transparency and prioritise mental and financial wellbeing.

Equally, investing in technology platforms focused on the employee elevates HR's reputation and demonstrates the willingness to put their employees' needs first.

By embracing these changes, HR teams can shatter the stereotype of being merely a 'policy department' and rebuild trust within the organisation.

Duncan Casemore is chief technology officer and co-founder at  Applaud