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The 5 bottom-line benefits of building trust in the workplace

Building trust in our team is more than a “feel-good” thing – here’s the data that show how trust affects our team’s performance and the company’s bottom line.

Image:  Bottom-line benefits of trust in the workplace going up.

Trust in the workplace matters to us. Or at least, we say it does.

We surveyed 597 managers and employees back in Fall 2018, and 91% of people said they value trust highly.

We also seem to spend a decent amount of time of it: 85% of managers say they spend a moderate to a large amount of time and energy on it.

Yet, how many of us could specifically say what the specific outputs of trust are?

Inherently, we know we’re supposed to trust our team. But it’s more an assumption than it is a true understanding of the payoff. Let’s take a look at the exact benefits of trust in the workplace, so we’re not just saying it matters, but understanding the ways in which it matters:

#1: Correlates to higher revenue

Research often shows organizations seen as “high trust” tend to have higher financial returns. A 2016 Harvard Business Review piece written by Stephen M. R. Covey and Douglas R. Conant compiled many of these findings. They cited companies listed on the “100 Best Companies to Work For” by Fortune, which trust comprises two-thirds of the criteria, “beat the average annualized returns of the S&P 500 by a factor of three.”

They also noted how “an advocacy group, Trust Across America, tracks the performance of America’s most trustworthy public companies and has found that the most trustworthy companies have outperformed the S&P 500.”

Lastly, they discovered that “a 2015 study by Interaction Associates shows that high-trust companies ‘are more than 2½ times more likely to be high performing revenue organizations’ than low-trust companies.’”

#2: Improves job performance

A 2002 study conducted by Dirks and Ferrin found that trust in leadership that significant relationship with these individual outcomes: increasing job performance, reducing turnover, increasing job satisfaction, and increasing organizational commitment. In addition, when in our own survey of 597 managers and employees, we found that 75% of people said they believe trust affects performance to a high degree.

#3: Increases employee engagement

According to a Gallup study of more than 10,000 people, when “employees don’t trust organizational leadership, their chances of being engaged are one in 12. But when that trust in the workplace is established, the chances of engagement skyrocket to better than one in two. That’s more than a six-fold increase.”

#4: Encourages employees to spread the word about the company

Trust is also your team’s rocket booster: It also gives people the “oomph” to spread the word about your company. In a 2016 Edelman study with 33,000 employees, they found that employees who trust in their leadership team are more likely to advocate for their company and its product and services.

#5: Enables dissent and open flow of communication

Trust opens the door for your team to express how they’re actually feeling. A Harvard Business Review article discusses how, “Without a foundation of trust, people in the organization may comply outwardly with a leader’s wishes, but they’re much less likely to conform privately — to adopt the values, culture, and mission of the organization in a sincere, lasting way. Workplaces lacking in trust often have a culture of “every employee for himself,” in which people feel that they must be vigilant about protecting their interests.”

Remind yourself of these benefits anytime you’re doubting whether you can afford to spend time on building trust. You can and you should. The payoff is real.

🌙 Trust doesn’t happen overnight. But over time, you can build it. Use our Icebreakers and Social Question in Know Your Team to help bring everyone in your team closer together – so you can benefit from trust in the ways that I described here. Give Know Your Team a shot today.

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Written by Claire Lew

CEO of Canopy. My mission in life is to help people become happier at work. Say hi to me on Twitter at @clairejlew.