We Have Trust Issues

If you haven’t noticed recently, there seem to be some issues in the business world and our culture with trust. It can surface in a lot of places, including communities, corporations, politics, and government. It can also play out in the day-to-day of our own workplaces with supervisors, peers, and friends.

Regardless of how you stack it up, trust is critically important to the foundation, growth and success of any group or organization. When we see corrupt, unethical practices take place and trust is broken (think Wells-Fargo) the damage is costly to revenues, brand respect, and public perceptions.

Earlier this spring, I was asked to speak at a conference on the subject of trust and how to strengthen it in an organization that had identified some trust issues among their employees. Some of the key topics in the talk related to a 2017 Harvard Business Review article on that very subject.

In the article, Paul Zak states “I found that building a culture of trust is what makes a meaningful difference. Employees in high-trust organizations are more productive, have more energy, collaborate better…and stay with their employers longer than people who work at low-trust companies”.

So, with trust being of high value and seemingly too rare, how do employers and leaders develop a sense of trust in their teams and organizations? In the article, Zak provides several action steps to build trust and I suggest you check out the article for the full discussion. For the purposes of this week’s article, I want to focus on what he calls “whole person growth”.

Forward-thinking companies are investing in the personal growth of their employees as well as job development skills. Options that engage team members in activities outside the workplace, with co-workers, and also reward healthy living, exercise, and community service, are all attractive “whole person” options that deepen employee loyalty and engagement and advance trust.

In the next article, we will continue to examine this important characteristic of trust, and how trust is advanced by how we recognize excellence among our team members.


Zak, P. (2017) Neuroscience of Trust. Harvard Business Review, January-February.