Beyond trust falls: Building trust and respect in the workplace
Interviews / Opinions

Beyond trust falls: Building trust and respect in the workplace

, Content Writer

Picture this: You’re standing with your colleagues in a circle, ready to participate in the all-time-classic exercise for building trust. The trust fall.

This scenario plays out in many workplace team-building activities. You close your eyes, take a deep breath, and fall backward, trusting your peers to catch you. This moment of ultimate vulnerability and exhilaration might seem like a quick path to building trust and teamwork. But in reality, it’s more complex.

Trust falls and similar activities are entertaining and work well as icebreakers. However, are they enough to create lasting trust and teamwork within an organization?

True trust and respect in the workplace require more than just a few physical demonstrations. Instead, they’re built through empathy, inclusivity, and job relevance.

From workplace theory to rockstar practice

In modern workplaces, trust and respect have become buzzwords. And this is why organizations forget to introduce them. People know they matter, from top executives to entry-level employees. But even if they recognize their importance, they often don’t know how to put them into practice.

HR managers and team leaders who are committed to building trust and respect within their teams can’t just stop at the “what” and “why.” The true magic lies in understanding the “how.”

Let’s look at an example:

Sarah (HR manager) and James (team leader) are two employees at a tech startup company, known for its progressive values. The organization’s mission statement highlights the importance of trust and respect in innovation and collaboration. Both are aware of these values, but they’ve noticed that theory fails to translate seamlessly into practice.

  • Theory: During meetings, Sarah and James hear leadership emphasizing the essence of trust and respect in the workplace.
  • Practice: Sarah and James notice gaps in the workplace culture, despite the theoretical commitment. For instance, team meetings are dominated by a few vocal members. And decision-making processes often exclude other people’s input. As a result, employees fear they won’t be heard and are hesitant to share their ideas.
  • Solution: Both decide to take action. They encourage team members to voice their opinions by setting up an anonymous suggestion box. They plan inclusive brainstorming sessions. And they work on implementing policies, such as ensuring feedback is not only collected but also acted upon.

By focusing on the “how,” Sarah and James helped their teams move from theory to practice. In essence, it’s all about taking those ideals and turning them into tangible behaviors and strategies. The true power of trust and respect is in the “how” when transforming workplaces into thriving, collaborative, and supportive environments.

7 ways for building trust and respect in the workplace

A workplace where trust and respect flourish breeds a culture that’s good for employees. And good for businesses too. Let’s look at the stats:

  • People at high-trust companies report 74% less stress and 106% more energy at work.
  • 79% of employees who trust their employer are more motivated to work and less likely to leave.

But to achieve those results, it’s not just about talking the talk; it’s about walking the walk too.

People need more from a modern workplace than just understanding the meaning of those values. So, help your teams put these principles into action by considering training topics and activities that make a real impact. Here’s how:

1. Cultural variety training

Poornima Luthra shares in “Empathy and Inclusivity in the Workplace” , from TalentLMS’ podcast series, Keep It Simple, that unconscious bias training is like asking people to jump off a cliff without giving them the tools to block bias in everyday situations—we need to provide practical solutions for addressing bias in processes, structures, and interactions.

poornima luthra bias

So, start by offering training on cultural differences and implicit biases. Amp up your teams to explore their own biases and understand how these might unconsciously affect their interactions with peers from diverse backgrounds. When promoting cultural diversity, organizations develop an environment where everyone feels valued and understood.

2. Cross-departmental brainstorming

Boost collaboration and teamwork and break down silos by planning brainstorming sessions between members from different departments. Cross-functional teams bring fresh perspectives to the table. Colleagues learn to appreciate the strengths and knowledge each person brings. As a result, creativity and mutual respect within colleagues bloom.

3. Icebreaker games

Such games are amazing tools for building trust and camaraderie among teams. Especially when new hires join the organization or in remote work environments. Icebreaker games are fun activities that allow people to get to know each other on a personal level, building open communication and a sense of unity.

4. Sensitivity training

Improve interpersonal relationships in the workplace with sensitivity training. These training sessions focus on active listening, empathy, and understanding different perspectives. Employees develop all the soft skills needed to navigate difficult conversations with care and respect.

5. Roleplaying exercises

During roleplaying activities, employees have the opportunity to practice crucial workplace scenarios (for example, conflict resolution and giving constructive feedback) in a safe place. During these activities, people within the organization improve their communication skills. Plus, gain confidence when addressing sensitive issues.

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6. Team building activities

Team building activities are an excellent way to strengthen trust and respect within the team. Off-site events offer a change of scenery and a relaxed atmosphere for team members to bond. But if off-site events aren’t feasible (in remote teams, for example), online workshops or games do wonders to foster open and honest communication among colleagues.

7. Mentorship and coaching programs

During mentoring and coaching sessions, experienced employees have the opportunity to guide and support newer team members. These programs can be incredibly effective in building trust and respect in the workplace among colleagues. This way, organizations create a culture of growth, learning, and mutual respect.

By integrating these training topics and programs into the workplace, organizations empower their teams to translate the concepts of trust and respect into tangible actions. But it’s important to deliver that training in a way that reinforces those values. Here’s where a user-friendly learning management system (LMS) helps.

Beyond trust falls: Building trust and respect in the workplace, one smile at a time

Training for trust: The benefits of using an eLearning platform

A user-friendly LMS is key to creating a more inclusive, harmonious, and productive work environment for all types of workplaces (on-site, remote, or hybrid.)

But how?

An LMS helps empower trust and respect initiatives in the workplace by:

  • Simplifying training with easy access to materials, regardless of people’s location or schedules.
  • Customizing learning with tailored content for specific training needs.
  • Allowing engaging content through interactive modules for memorable learning.
  • Offering progress tracking to monitor employee development and pain points.
  • Providing feedback collection through insightful assessments and surveys.
  • Recognizing achievements with certifications and badges that people can also share on their social media channels

In brief, an LMS assists with streamlining trust and respect initiatives. It makes training accessible, personalized, and consistent while providing tools for monitoring and improvement.

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Do’s and don’ts for seamless implementation

Building trust and respect in the workplace is an ongoing process. It requires consistent effort and attention.

So, how can you seamlessly implement such trust and respect initiatives in the workplace without falling into common pitfalls?


  • Encourage open communication: Support and motivate employees to openly express their thoughts and concerns. By fostering an atmosphere of open communication, you allow trust and respect to flourish.
  • Promote inclusivity: Leadership should ensure that all activities are inclusive. Consider physical and cultural differences when planning events and activities.
  • Set clear expectations: Establish clear expectations for behavior and performance. When everyone knows what’s expected, it’s easier to foster an environment of trust and respect in the workplace.
  • Recognize achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate any achievements and contributions of people within the organization. Appreciation and recognition of accomplishments are key to building trust and respect.
  • Offer feedback: Provide feedback in a supportive and constructive manner. Feedback input should focus on improvement and growth rather than criticism.

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  • Make assumptions: Avoid making assumptions about people’s intentions or capabilities. Instead, ask questions and seek to understand different perspectives.
  • Show favoritism: Try not to demonstrate favoritism among employees. Treat people in a fair and equal manner.
  • Indulge in gossip: Gossip hurts trust and respect in the workplace. Discourage negative talk among employees and foster professionalism.
  • Overload schedules: Refrain from overloading team members with excessive workload or unrealistic expectations. Keep tasks and schedules balanced to cultivate respect.
  • Ignore conflict: It’s not a good policy to avoid conflict. It harms trust. Address conflicts promptly and work collaboratively with involved parties to reach a resolution.
  • Micromanage: Leadership must trust their teams when it comes to completing tasks. Micromanagement creates resentment and undermines feelings of trust.

Harvesting success: Nurturing trust and respect in the workplace

Trust and respect in the workplace are like seeds planted in the soil of company culture.

Activities and training sessions serve as water and sunlight; think of them as the catalysts. For trust and respect to truly flourish, these values must become deeply rooted in processes, relationships, and decision-making.

So, building trust and respect isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. And it’s one worth running for a workplace that blooms with success and harmony.

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Elena Koumparaki - Content Writer

Elena blends, real-world data and storytelling for impactful L&D and HR content. Always on trend, her engaging work addresses today's needs. More by Elena!

Elena Koumparaki LinkedIn

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