top of page

Organizational Trust In A Changing Workspace

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

Organizational Trust
Organizational Solidarity

HR professionals and managers worldwide face a monumental challenge: how exactly can they deliver a workplace experience that meets the needs of today’s evolving workspace?

And as a strategy consultant and author Amanda Setili aptly said in a piece for SHRM, trust is central to how quickly and efficiently any organization can respond in the face of the level of changes and economic uncertainties of the current economic environment.

Wondering why we need more trust in today’s workplace? Well, trust in the workplace is directly proportional to growth and innovation, both of which are key factors for success in today’s evolving workplace. Here are a few questions to help you gauge the level of trust and distrust in your organization:

  • Do your employees have to seek approval for every little thing, or do they make intelligent, rational decisions knowing they’ll enjoy the support of their leaders?

  • How often do your employees seek help from HR in the face of challenges, or do they continue working, albeit inefficiently?

Trust and Distrust in today’s workplace

While analyzing several studies and research on organizational trust in today’s corporate sector, we uncovered a very interesting revelation.

  • 52% of business leaders say trust is higher at their workplace than before COVID-19, according to a joint report by The Workforce Institute and Workplace Intelligence.

  • 69% of employees say they don’t trust HR in another survey by career site Zety.

This leads us to wonder; Have leaders and employers made a mistake, overrating the level of employee trust within their organizations? Or, is trust in the workplace painfully low to the point where leaders and employers still feel the condition is better today even with 69% of employees still not considering their leaders as friends they could trust? Either way, we have a problem and a very big one at that!

Why is trust important in an organization?

As individuals, trust is a high priority in just about all of our dealings. Trust allows people to rely on others without feeling the need to safeguard themselves.

Lack of trust in your organization will create downturns in productivity and efficiency and hold your company back from its full potential. Building trust is the foundation for developing profitable relationships with customers, suppliers, and employees.

You can foster greater levels of trust in the workplace by always being open and transparent with your employees. Remove all ambiguity about what is expected of them and be honest, supportive, and consistent.

Managers who encourage a culture of trust will benefit from employees who get on with their work without second-guessing themselves or feeling the need to watch their back. These types of challenges are emotionally exhausting, destroy morale, and reduce engagement in the workplace.

High morale is incredibly important to the future of any company. Team members who are proud to show up to work are more productive and tend to deliver exceptional customer service, which are cornerstones to generating profit and growth.

How is trust related to culture in the workplace?

Organization trust in the workplace

Values and trust define corporate culture, and managers spend a great deal of energy searching for employees they can rely on and who will stay for the long term.

Employees who feel trusted are more likely to see themselves as valuable team members, which is a critical component of job satisfaction. Team members who are happy in their work are less likely to take their experience and skillsets to the competition.

Examining the official definition of trust gives us clues about how trust and workplace culture are inextricably entwined.

Trust is defined as “the confident expectation of something; hope,” and also “the obligation or responsibility imposed on a person in whom confidence or authority is placed."

This tells us that trust is not just an act of confidence, but it is also a responsibility of someone on whom others rely.

Every action you take either strengthens or erodes trust. For example, an overly critical boss who micromanages employees will have difficulty establishing trusting relationships. Employees who are careless or late will have their reliability questioned.

Putting trust in someone always carries risk, but when you do, you must behave in a way that allows their best traits to come to the fore. Employees will respond favorably to a leader who prioritizes trust in this way.

Building a high trust culture can be challenging at first. However, as trust builds, chaos in the workplace recedes, and the company can achieve its goals more quickly.

What is the role of trust in leadership?

Employee trust improves the quality of all relationships in the workplace and can influence the quality of every work-related outcome.

People will not give the best of themselves to leaders they don’t trust. Work will continue, but creativity, enthusiasm, and productivity will suffer. The weekly paycheck is no longer the only currency worth showing up for because employees put a great deal of value in being essential members of the team and part of a company’s success.

In short, if leadership wants to build a winning team that is in line with the company's vision, they need to start with a foundation of trust, because that’s how creativity and engagement are encouraged to grow.

How does organizational trust benefit workforce performance?

Organizational trust workforce performance

Low levels of trust in an organization have consequences in efficiency, customer satisfaction, and staff turnover.