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Career Monday: The Modern Rules for Rebuilding Trust after You’ve Been Laid Off

A recent study found that workers who’ve been laid off are less willing to trust others, and those doubts can linger for ten years or more even after starting a new job. It’s sobering news considering the recent recession that made redundancy a household word.

If you lost your job or just value a workplace with a culture of trust, there are ways to build that sense of community. Consider these suggestions for steps you can take yourself and qualities you can look for in your next employer.

Steps to Take for Building Trust in the Workplace

1. Set conditions. Memories of a security guard escorting you out of the building are bound to make you a little skeptical about management. Keep in mind that healthy trust is different from a blank check. Open up while maintaining sensible limits, like saying no to forced overtime or destructive gossip.

2. Give trust. Trust is a two-way street. By offering trust to your colleagues, you’re more likely to receive their confidence in return.

3. Live up to your word. Align your actions with your speech. Let your supervisor know they can count on you when you say you’ll complete a proposal before the final deadline or resolve a customer complaint.

4. Express gratitude. Small gestures matter too. Thank the receptionist who wishes you a cheerful good morning. Bring back souvenirs for the office mate who checked your email while you were away on vacation.

5. Share credit. Most victories are team efforts. Show your colleagues that you understand and appreciate the role that they play in putting together a board meeting or cleaning up the break room.

6. Communicate in person. Technology saves time, but it can also create distance. When possible, drop by someone’s office instead of sending them a text message.

7. Value relationships. The quality of your relationships determines the level of trust you’ll enjoy around the office. Treat others with respect and compassion. Be willing to compromise on individual issues so you can maintain positive office relationships.

Qualities to Look for in an Employer

1. Assess turnover. Trust and engagement are closely related, and engaged workers tend to stay on the job longer. Ask about the turnover rate when considering a job offer to avoid joining a long line of predecessors with short tenures.

2. Proceed from the ground up. Trust is part of the job description at each level in an organization. Feeling comfortable with your supervisor and the co-workers you’ll see daily may be more important than any statements from the CEO.

3. Encourage innovation. Openness to new ideas is a good sign that team members trust each other. Are suggestions greeted with enthusiasm? Are employees commended for trying to increase quality and save money regardless of whether their proposals need some refining?

4. Practice fairness. Another indication of high levels of trust is a commitment to justice and fair play. Do the same rules and discipline procedures apply to entry-level employees and top management? Are employees empowered to use their own discretion and judgement to complete assignments?

5. Reward competence. Naturally, trust thrives when you and your employer believe in your ability to do the job. Employers who provide training and constructive feedback may help you to put your redundancy behind you and move on with greater confidence.

Losing your job is a serious event, so take the time and effort you need to heal. The good news is that you can learn to trust again. Wherever you find your next position, your actions can help you to put your career back on track and become a valued member of your new team.

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