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Trust in the Workplace

"Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work." --Warren Bennis1


Trust is an essential part of any organization’s success- to most of us this is not news. From increased employee retention rates, through enabling innovation and growth, to guaranteeing customer satisfaction, the benefits of having a trusting staff are well documented. As Insight Experience’s Nick Noyes describes it, trust in an employer or boss allows workers to “bring a little more of themselves to work each day.”

Yet, in the report Global Generations 3.0: A global study on trust in the workplace2 conducted in the summer of 2016, EY found that less than half of the global working force has a high degree of trust in their employer, boss or colleagues, and nearly one-sixth has very little or no trust in these groups.

In the US, these numbers are even gloomier, with only 38% having a great deal of trust in their employer. How can it be that despite knowing its crucial importance, so many organizations are failing to foster a trusting environment?

In a market that is increasingly fast paced and unforgiving, attending to the slower developing aspects of a business can feel tedious. Trust is arguably the most onerous facet of an enterprise to cultivate, and the easiest to damage. At times it can mistakenly seem as if the burgeoning blossoms of trust are more like weeds, slowing us down with inefficiencies of inclusion and transparency.

Still, ignoring this investment could prove costly. In fact, EY’s study suggests that such a mistake could cost businesses an entire generation of talent, as Gen Z workers are significantly less likely to trust employers than are Baby Boomers (41% vs 51%).

EY’s study reinforces the idea that trust is not built through grandiose gestures, but rather through small cumulative behaviors. In fact, best practices for developing this culture include: treating subordinates and peers with respect; meeting commitments; and; communicating openly and transparently. In addition, being appreciative, providing recognition, and “praise for a job well done” are high on the list.

While it is easy enough to provide such feedback on occasion, how many of us are adopting this behavior as a regular part of our company culture? The study would argue not enough. This suggests that organizations lack the attention and appropriate tools to engender a trusting working environment. 

Insight Experience helps leaders acquire the tools and skill sets to earn and maintain trust. At IE, we also understand that time is a rare commodity; the faster your leaders can earn the trust of their teams, the sooner your business will flourish. Using the accelerated platform of simulation, we provide leaders with insight they can immediately implement to build a culture of trust. Doing so clearly sets businesses apart, and may well help them capture, rather than lose, a generation of talent.

[1] Accessed 2/17/2017.
[2] London. June 30, 2016. 


  Trust and Context


Ashley Perry is a Consulting Associate at Insight Experience, a Boston-based firm delivering contextually rich, immersive business simulations and learning experiences to accelerate and integrate leadership, business acumen and strategy execution.