Resources > Blogs

The Power of Trust and Recognition in the Workplace: Insights with Becky Rentzel



The Power of Trust and Recognition in the Workplace: Insights with Becky Rentzel

Creating a positive and productive work environment is crucial. When employees feel valued, supported, and engaged, they’re more likely to be motivated, perform at their best, and contribute to the company’s success. This blog speaks about the power of trust and recognition, exploring insights from a conversation with Becky Rentzel, a leader in learning and development with over 40 years of experience at a major quick-service restaurant chain. 

Trust and recognition are often considered “soft skills,” but their impact on employee engagement, performance, and, ultimately, an organization’s success is undeniable. When employees feel trusted, valued, and appreciated, they’re more likely to be: 

  • Motivated: Trust and recognition create a sense of purpose and belonging, encouraging employees to go the extra mile. 
  • Engaged: Feeling valued provides loyalty and a genuine interest in the company’s success. 
  • Productive: Employees who trust their leaders and feel appreciated are more likely to be productive and efficient. 
  • Creative: Trusting environments nurture innovation and encourage employees to share ideas freely. 

Understanding the Significance of Trust

Trust in the workplace goes beyond simply believing someone will do their job. It’s a cornerstone of a healthy work environment, boosting employee engagement, productivity, and overall well-being. 

A Forbes article says 86% of executives reported a high level of trust in their employees, but only 60% of workers felt that their employers trusted them

  • Communication Beyond Checklists: Trust isn’t built through one-way communication or rigid procedures. Becky says, “It’s not about giving a checklist and asking them to perform it but it’s mainly about communication.” Leaders need to create an environment of open and honest two-way communication. This means actively listening to employee concerns, providing regular updates, and being transparent about decision-making processes. 
  • Feeling Part of the Team: Employees want to feel valued as team members, not just cogs in a machine. Leaders who work alongside their employees treat them respectfully and encourage collaboration to build trust and a sense of belonging. Becky highlights this point in the podcast: ” Leaders should be able to communicate. They should be able to make employees feel part of the bigger team. That’s trust. Nothing can beat leaders working shoulder to shoulder and building an environment of trust. “ 
  • Psychological Safety: A key element of trust is psychological safety. Employees need to feel safe to take risks, ask questions, and even make mistakes without fear of punishment or ridicule. This allows for learning, growth, and innovation. Becky emphasizes this by saying, ” They (employees) need to feel psychologically safe, and they should be able to say what they want to say. All these you cannot get on a checklist. Be the leader who you would want to lead you. Treat people the way they want to be treated.” 

 Leaders play a critical role in establishing trust within the organization. Leaders who embody the values they expect from their teams – honesty, transparency, and fairness – go a long way in building a trusting environment. Leaders who are trustworthy and approachable create a ripple effect, encouraging trust throughout the organization.

Building Trust Through Effective Communication 

Effective communication is the bedrock of trust in any workplace. It allows information to flow freely and creates a sense of shared purpose. Employees who trust how information is communicated feel more valued, engaged, and productive.  

Poor communication is affecting trust for 45% of workersForbes

Here’s how communication strategies play a crucial role in building trust between team members and leaders: 

Transparency and Accessibility: “Communication should always be simple, accessible, and understandable. The strategy for communication has to be reliable. You don’t send out a newsletter for one week and not send it for two more months.  People should be able to trust communication.” – Becky 

This also means using clear language, avoiding jargon, and ensuring everyone has access to the information they need. 

Reliable Communication Strategy: A consistent communication strategy builds trust. Employees shouldn’t be left wondering where to find information or questioning its accuracy. Newsletters shouldn’t be sporadic, and updates should be timely and reliable. 

Two-way communication is key: Trust isn’t built through one-way pronouncements from leadership. Open and honest communication is a two-way street. Employees need to feel heard. Creating avenues for feedback through surveys, suggestion boxes, or regular one-on-one meetings allows them to voice their concerns and ideas.

Benefits of Effective Communication 

“Top-down communication is good too, but it is important for employees to have a place where they can give their feedback. Employees need to feel heard always.” – Becky 

Effective communication is more than just about feeling good. It has a real impact on employee performance. When employees understand company goals, feel heard, and are confident in the information they receive, they are more likely to be: 

  • Motivated: Knowing their role in the bigger picture and feeling valued for their contributions increases motivation. 
  • Aligned: Clear communication ensures everyone is working towards the same goals. 
  • Focused: Reliable information reduces confusion and allows employees to focus on tasks.  

“When you know where employees are, as in their long-term and short-term goals, and combining it and bringing it in line with company goals definitely improves their performance.” – Becky 

Remember, trust is a two-way street – leaders must also demonstrate trustworthiness through their actions. 

Empowering Employees Through Recognition 

While traditional incentives can have a place, true employee engagement comes from feeling valued, appreciated, and empowered to contribute to the organization’s success.   

The podcast highlights the limitations of superficial rewards like pizza parties.  

“In the olden days, pizzas and t-shirts really worked. Don’t get me wrong. But that’s not employee engagement. Employee engagement is when they feel they are part of the bigger team. They should want to get up every day and go to work with the thought that they are making a difference.” – Becky 

While these gestures can offer a temporary morale boost, they don’t address the core needs of employees who crave purpose and a sense of belonging. 

  • Celebrating Achievements: Recognition programs that acknowledge and celebrate accomplishments, big or small, go a long way in boosting morale. This could involve public recognition, personalized thank-you notes, or internal awards programs. 
  • Connecting to Purpose: Effective recognition highlights how individual contributions align with the organization’s goals. This helps employees see the bigger picture and understand how their work makes a difference.  

“Otherwise, people are just going to make it through the day. Truly engaged employees are the ones who think their dream aligns with the company in a bigger picture and have a purpose to work.” – Becky 

  • Growth Opportunities: Providing opportunities for professional development, like attending conferences or taking online courses, demonstrates a commitment to employee growth and can be a highly valued incentive. 
  • Flexibility and Autonomy: Offering flexible work arrangements or increased autonomy over projects can empower employees and show trust in their abilities. 
  • Public Recognition: A simple yet powerful way to recognize achievement is through public acknowledgment. This could be a shout-out in a team meeting, a mention on the company intranet, or a feature in a company newsletter. 
  • Goal-Based Incentives: Creating clear and achievable goals, followed by recognition and rewards for reaching them, can be a powerful motivator. As Becky suggests, ” Give them a target, and if they achieve the target, then celebrate. This will mean a lot more than a slice of pizza in the break room. Everyone likes to compete or not everyone, but a lot of people do. And if they know in advance, here’s the incentive, here’s the program we’re going to do, what’s in it for me? That will help. Make sure there’s a financial gain or a promotion or something. That’s how you get people engaged. Make them part of the solution instead of part of the problem, I always say. They’re going to be more engaged. “ 

Aligning Goals and Values 

The key to cultivating trust and engagement goes beyond simply outlining organizational goals and expecting employees to fall in line.  

“You really need to think about how to elevate the employee and not just the business. Few people have this attitude that they can treat employees however they want because they have loads of other people down the street and they can hire them. No people don’t prefer to work for this kind of leadership.” – Becky 

Organizations must shift their focus and truly invest in understanding their employees’ aspirations. This includes both: 

  • Long-Term Goals: What are your employees’ career aspirations? Do they want to develop new skills, climb the management ladder, or pursue a specific passion project within the company? 
  • Short-Term Goals: What are your employees striving for in the near future? Do they want to achieve a work-life balance, master a new skill, or contribute to a particular project?  

Organizations can create a more meaningful work experience by actively understanding employee aspirations. Here’s how aligning goals encourages trust and engagement: 

  • Shared Purpose: When employees see a clear connection between their individual goals and the organization’s mission and values, they feel a sense of shared purpose. This connection goes beyond simply completing tasks and enables a more profound sense of meaning in their work. For example, if an employee aspires to become a marketing manager, the organization could offer them opportunities to lead marketing initiatives for smaller projects, facilitating a sense of growth and alignment with their long-term aspirations. 
  • Investment in Growth: Organizations that demonstrate a commitment to employee development through coaching, training, and mentorship programs send a powerful message. They show their employees that they are valued and invested in their long-term success. 

Incentivizing Performance Through Fairness 

Favoritism and a lack of transparency can create a demotivated and disengaged workforce. When employees feel rewards are not distributed fairly, trust erodes, and gossip thrives. 

 “There are toxic environments where leaders give rewards to their favorite person. That is an employee engagement killer. That’s something that people are going to talk about at the water cooler or through text. But if everyone knows and they all have a fair shot, that’s a good reward. “- Becky 

Creating a fair and transparent incentive system is key. Here are some strategies to promote trust and engagement: 

  • Clearly Defined Criteria: Establish clear, objective criteria for achieving performance goals and earning rewards. Communicate these criteria clearly to all employees. 
  • Transparent Communication: Be transparent about the entire incentive program, including eligibility requirements, evaluation processes, and reward distribution. Transparency builds trust and allows employees to understand how their efforts contribute to earning rewards. 
  • Variety of Rewards: Not everyone is motivated by the same things. Offer a variety of rewards beyond just financial incentives. This could include public recognition, additional paid time off, opportunities for professional development, or flexible work arrangements. 

Tracking and Measuring Employee Engagement 

By adopting a data-driven approach and continuously using feedback to improve your work environment, you can create a more positive, productive, and engaging workplace for your employees.  

“Data is the most important way to get factual information.” – Becky 

This, in turn, leads to higher retention, improved customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, greater organizational success. 

  • Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses: Engagement surveys can reveal employees’ feelings about their work experience, from leadership communication to workload management and growth opportunities. 
  • Benchmarking Performance: Many survey providers offer industry benchmarks, allowing organizations to compare their scores to others in their field. This provides valuable context and helps identify areas where your organization excels or falls behind. 
  • Tracking Progress Over Time: Regularly conducting surveys allows you to track progress over time and measure the impact of initiatives to improve employee engagement. 

“You’re asking all these questions. Then you’re measuring what this overall score is. And then you say, oh my gosh. We’re really weak in their training, let’s say. We’re going to put a plan together. We’re going to measure it again. So, you’re continuously improving on that.” – Becky 

Crafting Effective Surveys: 

To ensure the effectiveness of your surveys, consider the following: 

  • Anonymity: Employees are likelier to provide honest feedback if they feel anonymous. 
  • Focus on Actionable Data: Craft questions that provide actionable insights, not just generic satisfaction ratings. 
  • Regularity: Conduct surveys regularly, but not so frequently as to create survey fatigue. A good cadence might be quarterly or bi-annually. 

Beyond Surveys: Exit Interviews 

Exit interviews offer another avenue for valuable data collection. When employees leave the organization, regardless of the reason, conducting an exit interview allows you to understand their motivations for leaving. This can reveal issues you might not have been aware of through surveys. 

The Bottom Line: It’s About People, and PeopleOne Can Help

Here’s how: PeopleOne offers a complete suite of tools and resources. These are not just tools, but solutions that can transform your organization. They are designed to help you cultivate a culture of trust and recognition. By encouraging effective communication between employees and leadership, ensuring transparency, and using polls to understand employee sentiments, PeopleOne can help you create a work environment where your people feel valued and empowered. Our Kudos recognition system and leaderboard tracking for incentives are just the beginning of the positive changes you can expect. 

As Becky Rentzel reminds us, it’s always about elevating the employee, not just the business. When leaders invest in their people, they’re investing in the future of their organization.  

Listen to the Full Podcast Interview with Becky Rentzel Here. 

By prioritizing trust and recognition, you empower your most valuable asset – your people.

Discover how PeopleOne can transform your organization

Request a Demo

HR and Comms Guide: How to Turn Your Intranet into a Highly Engaged and Productive Platform

Download Ebook