Trust Revolution: The changing relationship between companies and their employees

The relationship between companies and their employees has transformed rapidly since the turn of the year.

While the Covid-19 pandemic continues to grip the world, many businesses have been forced to undergo a trust revolution, driven by the shift to remote working, in order to keep people safe.

Recruitment companies have been no different; at SThree, we went from having most of our 3,000-plus people largely based in offices to having 98% working remotely in the space of just 15 days.

Almost all of our clients – leading businesses in areas like life sciences, healthcare and manufacturing – have implemented home working, with very few believing it’s a passing phase.

So, what has this meant for the employer-employee dynamic and how can businesses successfully navigate the trust revolution in the long-term?

Clarity and quality are key. Rating people on the key performance indicators, hierarchical structures and presenteeism of the past simply won’t work in today’s remote environment. Managers can’t manage on a line-of-sight basis, so they must be able to trust their people to deliver the highest quality of work with minimal supervision.

That’s why companies often request help from SThree in managing the onboarding process and cultural integration of candidates. It’s also why 51% of our clients told us that the biggest staffing challenge they face is the end-to-end virtual recruitment process or virtual candidate onboarding.

But it’s not just employees’ work that’s under the spotlight. There’s now a real focus on leaders being clear with their instructions and expectations, in terms of what “good” looks like and how to achieve it. Those who can command trust by providing real clarity on the parameters of work and setting their people up for success will be best positioned to achieve high quality results with their team.

I’m already seeing these positive cultural changes taking shape in how companies trust their people, how they measure performance on productivity and then how they develop they own leadership skills to suit this ever-changing environment.

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Support your people. Over half of the clients SThree spoke to (57%) said keeping people safe, enabling remote working and collaboration, and supporting the health and well being of those working remotely were the biggest challenges they faced. To overcome those challenges, we all need to re-think how we engage with our teams.

While traditionally managers have managed teams, the role of leadership is becoming more about how to support people. That’s particularly important when we think about how this health crisis has impacted everyone’s lives, including jobs, childcare, the freedom to go out and see friends and family, and the effect on people’s mental well being that all these factors bring.

Managers have to understand and relate to their teams. They have to be sympathetic to the needs of individuals, working with them to ensure they are set for success, whether that means providing flexible working hours, checking in regularly, ensuring that people aren’t suffering so-called “Zoom fatigue,” or celebrating success in imaginative ways.

Building a supportive culture which is cognizant of the external impacts of the crisis is critically important in maintaining that healthy balance in work.

And while there will always be a place for managers to manage, going forward, particularly with the uncertainty that continues to hang over everyone, the ability to support is vital.

Reap the rewards. At SThree, we’re already looking to the long-term and how we can support teams who will be split between remote working and office based. And we know our clients are too.

Businesses that support their people, offer clear leadership,and judge individuals on their work quality rather than the time they put in will be the big winners going forward.

Ultimately, those who embrace the trust revolution will find themselves with happier employees, better outcomes and a stronger business.

Tom Way

Tom Way
Tom Way is managing director, UK & Ireland at SThree.

Tom Way

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