8 Ways to Build a High Trust Culture

Low trust cultures are unproductive at best, but are usually toxic, stressful, litigious, and downright damaging in many ways.

Contrast this with an organization where business leaders have built a high trust culture within their organization. These cultures experience:

  • 50% higher workplace productivity
  • 13% fewer sick days
  • 76% more engagement at work
  • Up to 50% less voluntary turnover of staff
  • Higher customer satisfaction ratings
  • Cumulative stock returns 3 times the market average according to “Fortune 100 Best Companies to work For”

A quick look at who is on the top 10 of Fortune’s 100 Best companies to work at in 2017 provides some excellent examples of high trust companies. As a result of their high trust work environments, Google, Wegmans Food Markets, and Genentech have become rock solid business juggernauts!

So, how do you build this culture of trust?

Paul J. Zak wrote an HBR article entitled “The Neuroscience of Trust” in which he laid out eight behaviors that foster an culture of trust.

8 Leadership Behaviors to Foster Trust

According to Zak, leaders can build a culture of trust by exemplifying the following eight behaviors in their organization.

  1. Recognize excellence – Recognize great employee behavior and performance immediately after it has been observed.
  2. Induce “challenge stress” – Assign challenging but achievable work to employees with clearly defined targets and schedules.
  3. Give people discretion in how they do their work – Autonomy promotes innovation and fulfilment. Check out Daniel Pink’s book “Drive” for more details.
  4. Enable job crafting – Allow the staff to build job functions and teams by themselves rather than dictating structures and hierarchies.
  5. Share information broadly – Communicate vision, mission, goals, values, and strategies continuously so no one feels they are “in the dark.”
  6. Intentionally build relationships – Provide many opportunities for your staff to socialize both at work (lunches, after work parties, team building activities) and outside of work (company picnics, Christmas parties, etc.)
  7. Facilitate whole-person growth – Don’t just focus on hard skills at work. Furthermore, make developing soft skills a priority. Having many conversations throughout the year with employees about development and growth is much more powerful than the once a year performance assessment. (see this post for more details)
  8. Show vulnerability – Ask your employees for help. Show that you don’t know it all and that you do need help to be successful.

Take Action

First of all, spend some time this week and do a “self-assessment” of trust in your workplace. Secondly, ask your staff to anonymously provide feedback on some of the behaviors listed above and discover where you need to improve. Thirdly, pick one of these areas and focus on improving it over the next month. Finally, pick another improvement opportunity and focus on it for a month.

Continuously work to improve the level of trust in your business and watch your business improve!

Also, refer to these related articles to help improve trust and engagement in your organization:

  1. Boost Employee Productivity and Retention with This Tool
  2. Discover the Secrets to an Engaged Workforce – I
  3. Discover the Secrets to an Engaged Workforce – II
  4. Discover The Secrets to an Engaged Workforce – III


“In a company, high trust materially improves communication, collaboration, execution, innovation, strategy, engagement, partnering, and relationships with all stakeholders.” Stephen Covey


What is your experience with trust in the workplace? Leave your feedback below!

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3 thoughts on “8 Ways to Build a High Trust Culture

    • This is a good article from “hppy” focusing on building a high trust culture by leveraging mentoring relationships.