Trust, Pay, Culture: 3 Workplace Trends that Matter Now

Who do you trust? A two-way relationship of trust between employers and employees has always been meaningful but in the current climate, it’s critical. Payroll can be an invisible job. It's rare for a payroll professional to be praised for correctly calculating people’s wages. But when there are mistakes or delays, it's the payroll team who takes responsibility. There is no margin for error. It has to be on time, done right, every time. 

People rely on their wages, the money owed to them as their right, and they trust the payroll department to deliver. Mistakes chip away at employee trust. Mistakes harm organizational reputation and can cause employees to leave, incurring expenses for the company to find, hire, and train new talent.

Let’s look at the global environment. COVID-19 has fueled growing levels of mistrust in every corner of the globe, which has led to a greater demand for people and businesses to consider ethics and fairness. From an employer's perspective, the good news is that findings from the 2021 Edelman trust barometer show that businesses are considered more trustworthy than governments, NGOs, or media organizations. 


Why Trust Matters In 2021


Source: 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer

  • Businesses had a 61 percent trust rating in the report, compared to just 53 percent in government and 51 percent in the media.
  • Interestingly, while mistrust is high in general, 76 percent trust their employer, showing the important role employers play in the lives of their people.

However, while employers' trust level is encouraging, trust can be quickly lost. So employers must continually assess and determine their values and what they represent and balance short-term decisions with long-term consequences. The choices employers make today can have significant and long-lasting effects on the workforce, for example, are you selecting partners and vendors that align with your cultural values? It is businesses that put human capital first and offer a support system of technology, processes, and most of all, purpose, that build trust. 


Building Trust Through Pay & Earned Wage Access 

In 2019, PwC published its annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey, which found that payroll delays and errors, and other financial matters, were the biggest source of stress and disharmony among workforces. Fast forward to 2021 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the problem has only been exacerbated.

For example, 57 percent of Americans say they or a family member close to them has been financially impacted by the pandemic, and many have even moved from expensive areas like New York and California into less expensive ones to save money. For many people, maintaining an income is their top priority, and being able to trust their employer to pay them accurately and on time is critical.

Rather than just taking steps to ensure the reliability of pay processes, some employers have taken the opportunity to reshape their approaches to employee pay. For example, on-demand pay where employees can access an online application to withdraw their earned wages, as and when they need it has gained traction. The main advantage for employees is that on-demand pay and earned wage access acts as an emergency backup plan. This makes sense. Our world is more flexible and built around convenience. Our workspace is no longer a fixed location and we can order our shopping with a few clicks. So why not apply this to how we’re paid, too? 

As Kelley Rousayne, Global Time to Pay Advisory Practice Leader at The Hackett Group, notes in our Payday podcast: “I do expect on-demand pay to increase. Take a look back in March [2020], and everybody's running to the grocery store. Well, if you were the person who didn't get their paycheck until the following week, that gave you more incentive to sign up if that was something that your company made available.”

By handing control of the pay process to employees, organizations are building a benefit that can’t be commoditized: trust.


Why Trust Is Critical

The benefits of establishing this faith with employees, whether through on-demand pay or other initiatives, stretch far beyond keeping the workforce happy. For a start, it can play a major part in further demonstrating trust to employees working virtually. 

But a strong, positive culture where both parties share a mutual trust can help drive both the business and the workforce forward, particularly in these four areas:

  • Increased productivity: happier workers are more productive workers and those that feel their employer trusts them to get the job done respond in kind and are more motivated. In fact, in a 2017 study, it was found that employees in high-trust companies were 50 percent more productive than those in low-trust organizations. 
  • Reduced absence: employees who have a positive relationship with their employer are less likely to have days off because of sickness. In the same 2017 study, it was reported that there are 13 percent fewer sick days in high-trust organizations.
  • Stronger talent acquisition: a business that has a reputation for valuing its employees’ needs and desires stands out in competitive job markets, and looks more attractive to the most talented candidates.
  • Better corporate perception: in the age of social media and Glassdoor reviews, positive employees’ opinions hold global currency.


Building A Hybrid Trust Culture 

If 2020 was the work-from-anywhere year, 2021 will be the rebuild-your-culture year. There is no longer any doubt that employees can be increasingly productive while working from home, but there have been challenges to consider for organizational culture, such as:

  • Information sharing: written communication and documentation in a digital place so that employees, service partners, and vendors have answers when they need them. CloudPay's global platform, for example, allows you to standardize the processes and data involved in multicountry payroll by allowing you to share information and escalate issues through real-time collaboration.
  • Time zone-specific expertise: cluster teams from similar time zones for collaboration and skeleton teams so that employees can rest have increased. CloudPay specialists, for instance, provide expert guidance and timely updates to keep all parties focused on the end goal: efficient, on-time implementation of your global payroll solution.
  • Performance management: a change of focus from measuring employee output to measuring business outcomes. And adding resources for learning and development with regular check-ins and knowledge bases. Take CloudPay’s 99.99%+ performance on our service level agreements, and process optimization KPIs. Customers can check how their payroll compares against similar organizations or in specific countries and apply best practice.


Three Takeaways Around Trust, Pay, and Culture

  1. Trust is slow to build but can be broken quickly, particularly when it comes to employee pay in times of crises 

  2. Maintaining culture when people are working virtually is tough. Spend time with your people and invite partners and vendors to work with you if they truly share your cultural values

  3. Trust must be built into an ecosystem of information sharing and collaboration through people and technological processes

Let's go back to the original question. Who do you trust? To help organizations build trust with their employees, many companies turn to payroll providers to unify their global payroll. That could range from tracking overtime to paid time off, from ensuring that all benefits are paid to paying full-time employees, contractors, and more. An integrated, unified global payroll partner can help you create a payroll strategy that meets your business needs and supports your employees. Explore CloudPay’s global payroll and treasury services here.