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How COVID-19 has impacted trust in HR, and what HR can do to improve it

By Contributing Writer
Shandel Mcauliffe
October 07, 2021

When facing a crisis, like COVID-19, it’s important for employees to be able to trust their HR teams. Thankfully, almost a third (32%) of respondents to a recent survey said that they trust their HR team more than they did before COVID-19, and over half (54%) said that their trust levels had remained the same.

For HR teams looking to maintain or increase staff trust in the department, while the world continues to deal with COVID-19, there are still plenty of ways to do so.


A good start in building trust is to be open – where possible – with your staff. People will no doubt harbour concerns about their job stability, what working conditions are likely to be down the track (on-site versus working from home, for example), and what’s changed for the business (events like the pandemic and Brexit may have altered how the business operates or what it has to offer).

As the saying goes, ‘Give trust to earn trust’. HR needs to work with senior business leaders to determine what can be shared with employees, and to then make sure people see HR as a source of truth that they can trust.

Employees will appreciate an honest assessment of how the business is going, especially if it gives them a chance to contribute to improvements that might, for instance, save jobs that would otherwise have been lost.

Show and tell

HR often forgets to blow its own trumpet, but it’s important that employees understand how much hard work has gone into keeping everyone safe and in employment over the last 18 months.

Whether it’s a new procedure to manage potential COVID-19 infections on-site or increased benefits that help tackle employee mental health challenges, HR should be broadcasting why they’ve completed this work and how it will benefit people.

A sophisticated HR system will let HR communicate easily with all staff via workspaces. HR team members could upload regular short posts that shed light on projects of interest outside the department, and how this work demonstrates a commitment to employee wellbeing.

Embrace teamwork

Working with your employees as one team, and showing you’re facing HR/people challenges together, is a great way to build trust. And you can take it a step further by asking your staff what they need from HR; then build trust by delivering on what you can, to make work lives easier.

14% of Cezanne HR’s survey respondents said they trusted HR less than they did before COVID-19. It’s essential for the HR teams in this situation to immediately start working alongside their employees to understand exactly what HR has done to lose trust and to rebuild it by working on the problem together.

If employees felt like they were being put in an unsafe situation, HR needs to work with business leaders to rectify this immediately. If people lost trust due to a lack of communication, HR needs to reconsider the comms channel/s they are using, and make sure they are making the most of modern HR Cloud solutions.

And don’t forget …

Simply being thoughtful can be a great way to build trust. Leading retailers have made recent headlines after promising to give their staff time off on Boxing Day in acknowledgement of the last 18+ months. What can you do to give your employees a good experience and something to look forward to over the next few months?

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