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Is a Lack of Trust Hurting Your Bottom Line?

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

Trust ultimately drives profits. It’s a bold statement, I know. But if you trust the people you work with, you’ll be more likely to work hard, collaborate, and make quick decisions.

Think about a relationship you had, where trust was broken. Did the relationship last? Were you able to move past it? As in personal relationships, trust at work is a critical factor of success.

With employees working remotely, many for the first time, trust is of critical importance right now. Managers let go of in-person controls, and employees are acting with increased levels of independence.


Organizations with high trust cultures realize bottom-line benefits. In a high-trust culture:

  • People feel safe. They are more likely to open up and share ideas, leading to creative collaboration and higher quality solutions.

  • Questions are encouraged. Employees feel comfortable asking questions and ask for clarification, leading to a greater understanding of tasks and expectations.

  • Perceptions are more favourable. In communication, our opinion impacts how we interpret messages. In a healthy, high-trust relationship, you are more likely to interpret emails and memos in a positive light.

  • Trust encourages innovation and quick decision making. When there is trust among team members, there is less second-guessing. This increased confidence leads to faster decisions.

  • Trust enhances morale. Trusting the people you work with means, you will depend on them more, and work better as a team. This will elevate motivation and improve productivity.

Additionally, managers can deliver at a more strategic level because they are less caught up in the day to day challenges that arise when mistrust exists.


A Harvard Business Review study of 6,500 hotel employees showed a direct correlation between trust and profits. Hotels with high levels of trust between employers and their team were more profitable.

Out of a 5 point scale, even 1/8 point of improvement could be expected to increase the hotel's profitability by 2.5% (equal to $250,000 per hotel per year).

Paul Zak, a Harvard researcher, has studied the impact of trust on organizations for decades, and concludes “compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report:

  • 74% less stress

  • 106% more energy at work

  • 50% higher productivity

  • 13% fewer sick days

  • 76% more engagement

  • 29% more satisfaction with their lives

  • 40% less burnout


How do you know if trust exists within your workplace? There are warning signs to help you determine if a problem exists.

  1. Employees do not readily share opinions – information flows one way (top-down), and when you ask employees for input, no one steps forward.

  2. People are afraid to ask questions – employees don’t take the time to engage in discussions or ask for clarification.

  3. Projects are delayed - When employees are required to gain approval for everything, even seemingly small tasks, it leads to delays or prolonged deadlines.

  4. Employees only share wins and not concerns – if they are afraid to share bad news or concerns as soon as they come up, it can lead to small issues growing into huge problems.

  5. Nobody goes above and beyond – people focus on the tasks written in their job description only.

If you don't address mistrust, it can lead to broader issues among other team members, especially if a high-level employee is involved.


First, it's important to identify the source of mistrust. You may already have more information than you think. Trust that your employees know best and that their feedack will provide the insight you need. Look at exit/stay interviews, engagement and pulse surveys, or focus groups.

If you don’t have these data points or are looking for something more thorough and specific, Great Place to Work® is an authority on trust, and they’ve found a way to measure it. The Trust Index© allows companies to quantify employee impressions on three levels: the company as a whole (senior leadership), management, and individually between co-workers.

You can also highlight potential problem areas using insights from various business KPI’s. Where there are negative indicators, there may be a trust issue. For example, high levels of employee turnover, decreasing or consistently poor profit results, declines in customer retention and satisfaction levels, and unacceptable net promotor scores.

Once you better understand where the problems lie, and what your employees are saying, devise a solid plan and take action.


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