"If people don't trust in your company, they'll start reading between the lines even when the company's intentions are genuine."
<quote-author>Albert Alabau<quote-author><quote-company>Chief People Officer at Typeform<quote-company>
Based on this feedback, we announced in September that we’d extend flexible working permanently. People could continue working from wherever they wanted—and we wouldn't push anyone to go back to the office.
That proactivity was super welcome. At the time, most companies hadn’t made a final decision on this. Now it seems like an obvious choice, but back in September 2020 we didn't have this visibility—we took a chance on giving people a ton of flexibility.
People were really grateful to have this confirmation—parents, for example, could continue caring for their kids when needed without feeling guilty. Managers were grateful too, because people were asking them: ‘are we going to keep this flexibility? If I visit my parents, I might get stuck in a lockdown for months.’
But as a result, people have also stayed engaged, productive, and go the extra mile. It’s also made a difference recruitment-wise, because we had clear guidelines that recruiters could tell candidates.
But these were not expected outcomes. We just wanted to relieve some pressure on people.
Can employees tell when a decision is made with transactional vs. genuine intentions?
Whether people trust your intentions or not depends on the culture you have and the moment you’re in as a company.
If people trust in your culture, they will trust the intentions of your decisions are in their favour—even if there is a transactional motive behind them. If people don't trust in your company, they might start reading between the lines even when the company makes a decision with genuine intentions.
That's why it's so important to be transparent and explain why you do things. Trust is so difficult to get, but so easy to lose. You have to build it on a regular basis. Are you making obvious transactional choices or are you making choices that are genuinely in people’s interest?
What I've seen work well in many companies is channeling messages through people considered to be ambassadors. That could mean formal ambassadors like managers, or informal ambassadors—maybe an individual contributor that people trust.
Make those people part of the decision or the implementation, so they can explain that it’s being done because the company really wants people to be healthy. Especially when your company gets bigger, you have to make sure your message is crystal clear. This helps you at least own the narrative.