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The role of trust and transparency in business transformation

By Patrick S. Finn, SS&C Blue Prism

In a competitive market, building trust and maintaining reputation are everything. Without visibility behind key business decisions, employees will struggle to understand why changes have been made and join the journey with you. Without transparency, accountability and clear processes, customers will go elsewhere if they feel they cannot build strong and long-lasting relationships founded on common goals and aspirations.

The issue of trust in maintaining loyalty and long-term relationships is vital within every industry today. However, with Edelman's latest Trust Barometer 2022 research revealing that 63% of respondents worry that business leaders are lying to them, earning trust can be difficult to achieve.

We see this play out in business every day. The Industrial Revolution, which gave rise to life-changing and efficiency-boosting technologies and processes, also inspired the fear that these innovations would destroy jobs. Many workers today are sceptical and wary of the benefits of intelligent automation (IA). Insufficient levels of workplace trust further compound the problem. Like the industrial revolution, automation will ultimately improve overall quality of life. But for this digital transformation to occur most effectively, businesses need to establish trust so employees and employers can work collectively to integrate automation into their workforce and create a beneficial human-digital partnership.

How has employee trust been broken?

Before trust can be rebuilt, we need to understand why trust has been undermined in the workplace. The pandemic and the rise of remote working has only exacerbated issues of distrust. Lack of in-person workplace interactions have impeded building connections. Many find it difficult to trust employees' self-directed behaviour, over-monitoring workers to ensure productivity levels are maintained. This further erodes trust across the workforce.  

Employees usually and understandably perceive excessive monitoring as a lack of trust from their employer, which discourages motivation and contributes to work anxiety. Speedy top-down decisions without employee consultation or transparency further sow distrust. For example, the decision to integrate intelligence automation is one that affects everyone within a company. In the absence of explanation, employees often hold misconceptions about the intentions and ramifications of automation.

Trust is integral to business operations

Employees that feel like they are in a high-trust working environment have been shown to be more productive, collaborate better, and stay at their companies longer than those working in low-trust environments. Performance is further fuelled by reduced rates of chronic stress and higher levels of happiness. Such a culture of trust is a boon for businesses and has been proven to heighten creativity and innovation.

However, concerns over job loss (85%), including worries about automation or innovations taking jobs and beliefs that businesses are not doing enough to address workforce reskilling, undermine trust in employers, threatening the current level of employee trust in employers (77%).

Employers have a large role to play in determining the level of trust within their company, and, by fostering the right culture, they promote employee wellbeing and encourage the success of their own operations in the process.

Many industry leaders are recognizing the need to invest in a work community built on trust. According to PWC UK, about 90% of CEOs globally are taking steps to build trust and awareness among employees.

How to build trust with your workforce

  • Make it clear to employees that transparency is a company value and integral to company culture. Formalize it in company policies, recruit the support of employees to meet established standards, and ensure leaders are also reflecting these values in their actions.
  • Facilitate an ongoing open dialogue with team members, providing clear lines of access to superiors to convey issues or concerns.
  • Make sure employees have access to policy documents, for example, via an online portal, where they can see their employee rights and company values.
  • Give employees opportunities to offer input on major decisions, taking time to explain the intentions and expected consequences of significant changes.

There are many misconceptions surrounding the effects of integrating intelligent automation. For instance, many workers falsely believe automation will be used to replace human workers when often it's used to maximize the capacity of human capital, which is the most valuable asset organizations can have.

By opening a dialogue and making clear to employees that combining human and digital skills will allow them focus on the parts of work that require their creativity, critical thinking and direct engagement, employers will bring employees along on the journey of digital transformation and make them part of the process - an essential part of change management.

Working in tandem with technology will unlock unrealized potential both within the company and within each employee. To bridge the gaps between digital and human workers, a center of excellence (CoE) team of skilled knowledge workers can help integrate intelligent automation across the business, easing the transition by illustrating the value of working with IA and showcasing best practices from within the employee base. Existing employees are integral to the successful deployment of emerging technologies and are crucial for the successful rollout of intelligent automation at scale.

A business' organizational health impacts growth and development. A culture of trust is a large contributing factor to this. To build such a culture, open dialogue and transparency are key - they allow your workers to be part of the conversation and journey. By trusting your workers to be part of the journey, they will reciprocate by trusting you.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Patrick-Finn 

Patrick S. Finn is the President & General Manager of the Americas at SS&C Blue Prism.

Published Thursday, May 05, 2022 7:45 AM by David Marshall
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