Enhancing Trust in HR: It’s about employees and the business!
June 9, 2016

Are you viewed as a trusted adviser? The size of your HR department doesn’t matter when it comes to building a reputation as a trusted adviser. Your employees view you as their advocate and the keeper of their best interest and many see this as your only role. The leader of your organization, your CEO or owner, expects you to keep the business interests at the forefront and this may conflict with what you feel is right for your people. The ability to balance the needs of the business and your employees is key to building trust in your HR organization. If you are a department of one, earning trust rests on your shoulders. If you lead a department of many, you must ensure that all members of your team focus on building trust every day.

In a 2012 survey conducted by CareerBliss.com:

72% saw HR as management’s pawn

21% thought HR supports what’s right

7% thought HR looks out for employees


What do your employees think? We all know that it takes time to build trust in both personal and business relationships. Whether your HR function is enjoying high levels of trust or working to enhance trust, I offer you 3 behaviors that can make an immediate impact in your organization’s perception of HR. These behaviors come from my experience working inside organizations as well as consulting to organizations of all sizes in various industries.

1. Make money and save money.

Understanding the business and how it makes money will go a long way in meeting the needs of your people and the business. Make it your priority to learn as much as you can and focus on activities that make money and those that save money or protect the business. If you lead an HR team, make learning the business part of on-boarding and ongoing learning and development. Bringing talented employees into the business will help to make more money and developing a strong safety program will keep the business profitable while creating a safe environment for your employees.  

2. Practice two-way communication.

Creating an environment of trust involves sharing information about your strategy and activities and asking for employee input and feedback. HR is responsible for creating and implementing policy and procedure in the organization. Consider involving your employees and asking for input during the development phase and feedback during the policy review process. Yes, this takes longer and you may get some ideas that you can’t live with. Act upon the feedback that you receive even if it is to say you are not able to integrate the suggestion and don’t forget the “why”. Make sure you and your team are available to the leadership and the employees alike. Everyone should feel important and listened to.

3. Say what you do and do what you say.

Make it clear to your employees that your role is to advocate for them and the business. The decisions that you and the leadership team make around total rewards (compensation & benefits) have an impact on both the employee and the business. Be transparent with the why and how you came to the these decisions. When pulled in to confidential conversations with employees, if you say it is confidential, keep it confidential. If you are not able to keep it confidential, let the employee know why you need to share the information and with whom you will be sharing. Honor the agreement that you make with the employee.

These are just a few ideas to help you build trust in your organization. Asking for feedback from your leadership team and other stakeholders will go a long way in helping you identify your strengths and opportunities.
Looking for more trust enhancing ideas? Join Lois Krause and me for a webinar on June 21st, at Noon. Lois and I will be discussing best practices around building trust in HR. This webinar is one of the many topics which comprise KardasLarson’s “Small Bites Series” (a taste of HR).

Leesa Schipani

Leesa Schipani


With 20+ years HR experience, her focus includes HR strategy, talent management, and customer & employee experience. Leesa has advanced HR certifications: SPHR, SHRM-SCP.


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KardasLarson is a human resources and business consulting firm that maximizes employee performance so people and organizations prosper.



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