The role of Trust in HR

A good friend of mine who also happens to be an awesome HR practitioner, had a personalised ending to his emails: “Doveryai, no proveryai” …Trust, but verify.

It was a term that gained popularity after it was adopted by U.S. President Reagan when dealing with the then General Secretary Gorbachev.

It’s an interesting phrase and much has been made of the fact that if you really trusted someone, you wouldn’t need to verify at all.

Unfortunately, the application of trust in an online world is complex and has spawned a multitude of technologies and practices that help two parties, often who don’t know each other – trust the other’s intent.

HR is one business function where trust is essential because the HR Dept must execute tasks which require a lot of trust (investigations, performance management, crisis management) and they have access to a person’s most sensitive information (personal and remuneration details).

Trust in the Workplace

A recent global survey by Ernst and Young (9,800 adults and 3,200 younger adults) showed that less than half of the global respondents have a great deal of trust in their employer.

Another global survey, the Edelman Trust Barometer, ratifies these results to a certain extent, but indicates that employees are more likely to trust their employer than traditional institutions like government, the media and the church.

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report (screenshot above is from page 23) also shows a marked difference between men and women, with women far more distrusting.

Trust with Information

According to the HR Trend Institute, one of the Top 10 Inspiring HR trends for 2019 is People Analytics. Personal data can be incredibly powerful in providing work life insight, but this ability raises all sorts of issues for both parties.

Employees are increasingly aware of their privacy and how their employer/s manage their personal information and associated data. Common questions and concerns that arise from this awareness may include:

Can I trust that my employer won’t use the data to make my life harder?

Will my employer keep my data safe?

Employers too are concerned about the efficacy of employee data, as their business operations are often profoundly affected by their ability to collect and trust information gleaned from their employees. Think hospitals and Dr’s qualifications.

What erodes Trust

Trust between both parties is most rapidly eroded by a lack of transparency and a failure to follow through on promises.

Inversely then, the greater the transparency and communication as well as follow through on commitments are factors in an employee/employer relationship most likely to create trust.

The question being, how do you facilitate that trust and communication in an easy way where both parties are comfortable in the exchange?

The way forward

As with most trends, we at Cited recommend a healthy balance between transparency and protection for both the employee and the employer.

In our view, the “safer” the environment, the more likely each party will be to move towards a relationship where trust is second nature. A common platform which guides each party to be able to request and identify verified information, means trust is no longer an issue, because a 3rd party has deemed the information to be “true”.

We feel our data sharing and verification platform can contribute to that relationship gain.

For more information, contact Cited on