Trust in the workplace: How to recognise a fair employer


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The most important facts about a culture of trust

reading time: ca. 5 minutes

  • A culture of trust is an important indicator of the relationship an employer builds with their employees. It includes, for example, transparency, communication, and internal dynamics within the organisation.
  • A genuine culture of trust ensures a pleasant working atmosphere and successful cooperation. This is why you should pay attention to certain characteristics that help you recognise a trustworthy employer. There are also warning signs that indicate a lack of trust.
  • When researching a company, you get an initial impression of how transparently it communicates and what the corporate culture is like. You can obtain more detailed information through specific questions during a job interview.
  • To create an atmosphere of trust within your team, you should pay particular attention to honesty, transparency, and open communication. Shared goals and successes, feedback, and constructive conflict solving also contribute to team spirit.

Trust within a company is the basis for strong cooperation and a positive working environment. If values such as transparency and fairness are not only promised but also practised, both employees and the company itself benefit. But how do you recognise an employer that is truly trustworthy and transparent?

Greater satisfaction, creativity, productivity, and team spirit – these are just some of the benefits that come with an environment based on trust. Especially in times of New Work, remote working, and digital communication, a culture of trust is becoming increasingly relevant.

Fortunately, there are certain characteristics that help you identify a fair employer. Good research and the right questions in job interviews will give you a clue as to which values are practised in everyday working life. And with a few tips, you can contribute to building trust in your team yourself.

What is a culture of trust?

In a culture of trust, everyday working life is characterised by mutual respect and transparent communication.

Trust in the workplace means that employees and managers rely on and value each other. They are given freedom and responsibility. Plus, they are openly informed and involved in decisions.

Trust also means:

Benefits of a culture of trust

A culture of trust in the workplace leads to a positive working atmosphere with many benefits for employees and managers.

Greater satisfaction

Trust increases well-being in the workplace and overall life satisfaction. An appreciative and open working atmosphere helps you enjoy your work.

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More productivity

You work more efficiently and productively in a trusting working environment. Insecurity, fear, and dissatisfaction are the biggest productivity killers. Those who enjoy their job usually deliver the best results.

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More responsibility

You can organise your work independently and take responsibility for your tasks. Ideally, you are involved in decision-making. This allows you to grow and take on challenges.

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Less stress and anxiety

A culture of trust reduces uncertainty, pressure, and anxiety at work. You feel more secure and less stressed. This also means a lower risk of burnout and depression, and improved health in the long term.

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More motivation and creativity

People who are happier at work are more committed, too. Employees and managers motivate each other. Also, they encourage others to contribute new ideas and creative solutions.

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Better teamwork

Trust promotes cooperation. Open communication, harmonious exchange, and mutual support strengthen the entire team. At the same time, there is less fluctuation, resulting in long-term team relationships.

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Man looking at laptop with a smile

How to find out whether a company is trustworthy

To recognise what the culture of trust looks like, you need to gather some information. This is how you can approach it:

  1. Research: You can find a lot of information on the internet, for example on the company website. Here you can learn about the corporate culture, values, and job benefits. The company may also share further insights on its own social media channels.
  2. Corporate communication: Observe how transparently the company communicates and provides information about goals, finances, or other internal data. The website, blog, social networks, and newsletters are important sources.
  3. Insider experiences: Using job networks such as LinkedIn, you can quickly find out whether you know someone who works at the company – or know someone who knows someone. Here you can ask about the feedback culture or working atmosphere.
  4. Enquire: Ask the company for a contact person who you can get information from. The job interview is also a very good opportunity to ask questions about the corporate culture, internal processes, and working atmosphere.

Questions you should ask in your job interview

  • How would you describe the corporate culture?
  • Which values are particularly important?
  • How are conflicts and problems dealt with?
  • How are decisions made?
  • How can employees give feedback?
  • Do employees have the chance to contribute their own ideas?
  • How is internal communication organised, what communication channels are used?
  • How are (new) employees informed about company goals and decisions?
  • What opportunities for personal development and further training are provided?
  • How are working hours organised and what is the policy regarding overtime?

Checklist: Characteristics of a trustworthy company

Watch out for the following aspects to assess the culture of trust and fairness:

  • Transparent communication
  • High reliability
  • Fairness and integrity
  • Respect and appreciation
  • Open exchange
  • Fair pay
  • Good work-life balance
  • Opportunities for personal development
  • Social responsibility
Characteristics of a fair and trustworthy company at a glance

Transparent communication

A transparent company communicates its goals, strategies, and decisions openly. However, transparency does not only mean disclosing data. It also means providing honest and clear information about the processes and reasons behind them.

High reliability

Promises are kept, both towards applicants and employees as well as towards business partners and the public. The company is honest and fulfils its pledges.

Fairness and integrity

All employees are treated equally. Working conditions are fair and transparent. The company adheres to ethical principles and takes responsibility. Internal guidelines, such as a Code of Conduct, are favourable.

Respect and appreciation

Interaction within the company is respectful and at eye level. This also applies to communication with applicants: They are not treated as supplicants, but as equal and valued people.

Open exchange

Regular meetings and a constructive feedback culture ensure that everyone can express their opinion and make suggestions. Employee feedback and ideas are appreciated and incorporated into company decisions.

Fair pay

Fair and appropriate salaries acknowledge the performance of employees. Transparent overtime regulations are also part of fair working conditions.

Three employees chat and build trust in the team

Good work-life balance

The employer cares about the well-being of its employees. A healthy work-life balance is supported, for example, by flexible working hours and working from home.

Opportunities for personal development

Employees are encouraged to excel. They are given the opportunity to develop their skills further – for example through new tasks and challenges, advanced training, or coaching.

Social responsibility

The company is not only committed to its own employees, but also to community interests, the environment, and social concerns. This shows that humanity is a major priority.

Red flags: Detecting warning signs of a lack of trust

These red flags should encourage you to take a closer look:

  • Lack of transparency in corporate communications
  • Missing or unclear information about the company
  • High employee fluctuation
  • Non-transparent application process
  • Unreliable communication, for example with applicants
  • No clear statements about working conditions, working hours, and salary
  • Questions in job interviews are answered inconsistently or not at all
  • Inappropriate or disrespectful behaviour towards applicants
  • Violations of the law or (ethical) misconduct

Successful practical examples

Practical examples show how companies successfully build trust and transparency and value their employees.

Best practice: Open Door Day

Once a quarter, our COO Heinrich Fritzlar opens up his office: all employees in his department are welcome to come by without an appointment on Open Door Day.

“I put people first,” Heinrich Fritzlar says. “They can voice their concerns, ideas, solutions, or feedback, no matter how big or small. Or they can just come around for a little chat so that we get to know each other better. I’m in for everything!”

And what are the benefits? Above all, respect, appreciation, and trust, Heinrich Fritzlar states. “To put it in a nutshell, it cultivates a positive, inclusive, and dynamic culture that values every employee's contribution, fosters open communication, and encourages a sense of belonging. That is why I will stick to this tradition.”

COO Heinrich Fritzlar in front of his office at OVB Holding AG
“I initiated the Open Door Day to show that I genuinely care about our employees' well-being, thoughts, and suggestions. It's about breaking down barriers and ensuring everyone is heard.”

Heinrich Fritzlar, COO of OVB Holding AG

Measures to build trust

A strong culture of trust can be built through various methods, including:

  • Regular feedback meetings
  • Transparent decision-making processes
  • Clear communication of goals and strategies
  • Equal treatment and fairness, for example by developing internal behavioural guidelines
  • Support and empathetic interaction with one another
  • Promotion of work-life balance
  • Strengthening team spirit, for example through events and team building

Tips for trustful communication within your team

You yourself can contribute to a trusting atmosphere and transparent communication in your team. These tips will help you create a positive work environment:

Define common goals

As a team, set goals and responsibilities that you work on together. This promotes team spirit and collaboration. Involve all team members – everyone is important and plays their part.

Communicate openly

Exchange thoughts and ideas. Make sure that information is communicated clearly and comprehensibly. Listen actively and always be respectful.

Be honest and reliable

Keep your promises so that others can rely on you. Make your statements honestly and authentically. Secrets, lies, and half-truths lead to mistrust in the team.

Provide feedback

Give feedback in a constructive way. It's not about criticising others, but about growing and learning together. And: accept feedback and suggestions for improvement from others.

Resolve conflicts

Disagreements are part of the job. Resolve conflicts constructively and respectfully. A good amount of empathy helps you understand the points of view and feelings of other team members.

Celebrate successes

Celebrate together when you or other team members achieve certain goals or milestones. Appreciate not only your own successes, but also those of your colleagues.

Conclusion: Trust is the basis for job satisfaction

A culture of trust in the workplace is key – both for the success of a company and employee satisfaction.

It is therefore worth investing time for research and thorough enquiry if you are looking for a good employer. In an environment where trust and fairness are practised, all employees are valued.

We are looking for new talents!

Our employees are important to us. That's why we promote a trusting and appreciative working atmosphere. Join our team!

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