Building Trust in the Workplace: Leveraging Frances Frei's Trust Triangle to Navigate the Great Resignation in Healthcare

By ShiftMed Team//Healthcare Industry, Healthcare Staffing
Nurse exits hospital during the Great Resignation in Healthcare

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful workplace. It forms the bedrock upon which collaboration, productivity, and employee satisfaction are built. As we navigate through the current period, often referred to as the Great Resignation, trust emerges as a crucial factor driving collaboration and innovation. Its significance is heightened as retaining talent in healthcare becomes an increasingly pressing concern. 

John Frehse's recent insights at the Workforce Innovation Summit illuminated the harsh realities of the current job market and economy, particularly emphasizing the profound impact of the Great Resignation on the healthcare sector. Drawing from Frances Frei's renowned Trust Triangle, which rests upon the three pillars of authenticity, empathy, and logic, Frehse underscored the importance of trust as a linchpin for fostering healthy relationships between employers and employees. 

As healthcare grapples with an unprecedented labor market landscape, marked by an abundance of unfilled positions, wage pressures, and soaring consumer prices, the need for trust becomes even more pronounced. This article delves deeper into the significance of trust within the healthcare workplace and explores how leveraging Frances Frei's Trust Triangle can be a strategic approach to address the challenges posed by the Great Resignation. 

The Great Resignation’s Impact on Healthcare 

The impact of the Great Resignation on the healthcare industry cannot be overstated. Within this sector, a confluence of factors has created a perfect storm, leading to several critical challenges. First and foremost, the healthcare workforce is confronting an unprecedented exodus of employees, from nurses and doctors to administrative staff. This attrition strains the industry's ability to provide essential care and heightens the burden on those who remain, often leading to burnout and decreased quality of care. 

the health sector added 58,400 jobs over the previous month.

Across the nation, there is a staggering number of open job positions within healthcare facilities. According to Health System Tracker, as of October 2023, the health sector added 58,400 jobs over the previous month. Jobs in the health sector are 3.9% higher than in February 2020 (the previous peak), compared to 2.9% in all other sectors. Coupled with this demand is the pressing issue of wage pressures, as healthcare professionals seek better compensation packages to match the increased demand for their services. Simultaneously, the broader economic landscape has given rise to high consumer prices, making it challenging for healthcare organizations to navigate rising operational costs. These challenges have brought the healthcare industry to a crossroads, underscoring the critical need to address trust and employee retention. 

The Central Role of Trust 

In times of upheaval and change, the role of trust in the workplace cannot be overstated. Amid the turbulence of the Great Resignation in healthcare, trust becomes not merely a virtue but a strategic imperative. Trust empowers organizations to weather the storm of uncertainty and retain their most valuable asset: their workforce. Employees who trust their leaders and colleagues are more likely to stay committed, engaged, and resilient in the face of challenges.  

Frances Frei's Trust Triangle is a guiding force to cultivate trust in the workplace. This framework is built upon three foundational elements: authenticity, empathy, and logic: 

  • Authenticity urges leaders to be genuine, transparent, and consistent in their actions. 

  • Empathy fosters a culture of compassion by relating to the employees’ concerns. 

  • Logic creates a rational, fair, and equitable work environment. 

Frances Frei's Trust Triangle

By adopting and implementing these principles, healthcare organizations can forge stronger connections with their workforce, mitigate the impact of the Great Resignation, and navigate these challenging times with resilience and unity. 

Authenticity: Building Trust Through Transparency 

Authenticity is the cornerstone of trust-building in the workplace. Employees yearn for genuine connections with their leaders and colleagues. Authenticity, in this context, entails leaders and organizations being true to their values, consistent in their actions, and transparent in their communication. When leaders embody authenticity, it signals to employees that they are trustworthy and committed to their collective well-being. 

Transparent, authentic communication in the workplace is paramount. It involves sharing both good news and challenges openly and honestly. For example, during the Great Resignation, healthcare organizations should acknowledge the strain on their workforce and discuss concrete steps taken to address it. Strategies for building trust through transparency include creating spaces for open dialogue, actively listening to employee feedback, and fostering a culture where admitting mistakes is seen as an opportunity for growth rather than a liability. 

Empathy: Fostering Connection and Understanding 

Fostering empathy in the workplace is essential. It's the ability to understand and share in the feelings and experiences of others, which, when practiced by leaders and colleagues, forges a deeper connection. Empathetic leaders demonstrate that they value their employees as more than just assets, acknowledging their needs, concerns, and aspirations. 

Understanding employees' needs and concerns is paramount. Leaders should actively seek feedback, engage in one-on-one conversations, and conduct surveys to gain insights into the challenges their workforce faces. By fostering empathy in the workplace, organizations demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of their employees. Organizations can provide training and workshops on emotional intelligence and active listening. They can also celebrate and reward acts of empathy and kindness among team members, creating a positive feedback loop that reinforces a culture of trust and understanding. 

Logic: Making Informed Decisions and Promoting Confidence 

Logical decision-making for trust and consistency plays a pivotal role in building trust within the workplace. When leaders base their actions and decisions on sound reasoning and data-driven strategies in healthcare, it reinforces their credibility. Employees are more likely to trust leaders who consistently make decisions that align with the organization's mission and values. 

The importance of data-driven strategies in healthcare cannot be overstated. Healthcare organizations should leverage data analytics to identify areas for improvement, optimize resource allocation, and enhance patient care. Making informed choices in challenging times involves conducting thorough risk assessments, scenario planning, and regularly reassessing strategies based on evolving circumstances. By data-driven strategies in healthcare and logical decision-making for trust, leaders can instill confidence in their workforce, demonstrating that their decisions are grounded in facts and geared toward long-term stability and success. 

Challenges and Opportunities in Healthcare 

A distinctive set of challenges in healthcare have been amplified by the Great Resignation. Staffing shortages have created an immense strain on healthcare organizations, resulting in overworked employees, longer patient wait times, and potential compromises in the quality of care. Coupled with these staffing challenges in healthcare, the persistently high consumer prices for medical services and treatments add an additional layer of complexity, making it difficult for healthcare institutions to balance their budgets and maintain affordable services. 

However, within these challenges lie trust-building opportunities in healthcare to build and strengthen trust with their employees and patients. By transparently addressing staffing shortages and demonstrating their commitment to improving working conditions, healthcare institutions can foster trust among their workforce. Furthermore, implementing cost-containment measures and exploring innovative solutions to mitigate the impact of high consumer prices can showcase an organization's dedication to making healthcare accessible and affordable. 

Trust-building in healthcare is not just about navigating challenges; it's also about seizing opportunities to demonstrate commitment, empathy, and logic in the face of adversity. 

Adopt and Implement the Trust Triangle 

The challenges brought forth by the Great Resignation in healthcare have underscored the role of trust in the workplace. By embracing authenticity, empathy, and logic—cornerstones of Frances Frei's Trust Triangle—organizations can create a workplace culture that fosters trust. Authenticity cultivates transparency, empathy forges deeper connections, and logic guides informed decisions, all of which are vital for building and maintaining trust among employees. 

The Trust Triangle framework offers a roadmap to successfully navigate the turbulent waters of the Great Resignation. It is a call to action for healthcare leaders to champion trust as a core value, an unwavering commitment to creating an environment where employees feel valued and heard, and where patients receive the high-quality care they deserve. By adopting and implementing the Trust Triangle, healthcare organizations can weather the storm and emerge stronger, more resilient, and more trusted by all stakeholders.