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August 20, 2012 / mike54martin

A Simple Matter of Trust

There are dozens of surveys done in Canada every year that measure how people feel about their workplace and some that try to separate out the “best” or “great” places to work. What every single one of them find is that it isn’t about how much money people make, although that’s a consideration and it isn’t about the in-house gym, although that’s nice. It almost always comes down to a simple matter of trust.

The Great Place to Work Institute has been surveying employees and employees around the world in 29 countries, including Canada, for over 20 years. What they found is that there are a number of underlying factors that make a great place to work but that every “great” workplace has what they identify as a high-trust environment. They go further by identifying what they have observed are the three core dimensions of trust as credibility, respect, and fairness.

And employers who work at these three elements of trust get two bonuses from their employees as a result of their efforts, a sense of camaraderie between workers and pride in their work. These two side-benefits in turn spin a sense of goodwill and positive morale that makes a good workplace grow into its greatness. And the good news just gets better. A high trust workplace is not only a great place to work but it has been proven to be one of the highest performing as well. This is true wherever it has been measured and is reflected in everything from staff retention to profitability.

Trust can be built, grown, and maintained through solid management policy and direction and at its’ simplest trust means that an employee knows what to expect and what is expected of them at work. They have the security and freedom to take the strategic risks that can improve an organization’s performance and can trust that what is told to them one day will remain consistent until they get informed that things have changed.

An example of a high trust workplace that I noticed a few years ago was the Delta Hotel chain. I noticed an ad in the elevator one day that said if I had a problem, any problem, I could approach any staff member at the hotel, and if they could they had the Power to fix my problem or bring it to someone who could. The managers at that hotel had given their on the ground staff the trust that they needed to take a risk and fix a problem. I loved the idea and so did the staff I talked to.

The final two things about trust are that it must be earned, slowly and over time. And that trust can easily be broken. So if you want to start building a great workplace, start small and build it together as a team. Then be consistent as you practice giving and using trust in your day to day work. It may feel a little uncomfortable at first but that’s only because it may be new. Try it for a while and see how it goes. You just may get that great workplace you were looking for. It may be a simple matter of trust.

This post originally appeared on my blog at

Mike Martin is a writer and the author of The Walker on the Cape, a mystery novel set in Grand Bank, NL. For more information please visit:

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