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15th December 2022

Strengthening Trust in The Workplace

Trust is an essential factor for human affairs and is strongly linked to workplace success and job satisfaction [1]. However, the shift towards hybrid and remote working, which has led to a lack of physical proximity between colleagues, has had a negative impact on relationship building and the process of building and strengthening trust between individuals. This has created new challenges for organisations who recognise that the need to establish new and improved ways for strengthening trust is higher than ever before [4].  In this article, we will be exploring the importance and key steps for strengthening trust in the workplace.

Strengthening Trust in The Workplace 1

Defining Trust

Trust can be defined as the willingness of an individual to be vulnerable towards others [5]. The ability to be vulnerable comes from building strong relationships which make individuals feel safe. In contrast to psychological safety which is a group phenomenon and consists of beliefs concerning the group norms, trust focuses on the beliefs that one person has about another.

Studies have shown that a trustworthy team member will encompass these three dimensions [6]:

  • Competence — they will have the ability to execute something efficiently and successfully. This will lead to colleagues viewing them as reliable and dependable.
  • Honesty— they will adhere to strong moral principles and be transparent with their colleagues.
  • Benevolence — they will go beyond their own self-needs and consider what is in best interests of other team members through showing kindness and compassion.

Furthermore, trust can be categorised into two types: cognitive and affective. Cognitive trust is formed from the assessment of the reliability, competence, and skills of another person. This type of trust develops in the earlier stages of trust formation. Whereas affective trust is formed from empathy and emotional connections and is perceived to have a stronger effect over time [5].

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Why Is Trust Important in The Workplace?

Research shows that working in a high-trust environment is associated with increased commitment from employees. It also suggests that a high-trust environment can result in 76% higher engagement, 40% less burnout and 29% more life satisfaction within employees [2]. Therefore, having a high degree of trust among colleagues is essential to the success and effectiveness of teams within organisations [3].

Trust is essential for effective team working as it also:

  • Increases productivity – high-trust organisations promote autonomy of employees which involves giving them control over their own work. This leads to a reduction of micromanagement and therefore increases employee productivity.
  • Enables collaboration – high-trust organisations involve individuals trusting that their colleagues are capable of contributing to work at a high standard and meeting deadlines, therefore enabling collaboration to solve problems.
  • Promotes creativity and innovation – high-trust organisations create an environment where employees feel comfortable in suggesting a variety of innovative solutions to solve problems, therefore increasing creativity and innovation [9].

How Can We Build and Strengthen Trust within a Team?

  • Delivering what is promised will help to increase trust within the team. Being compatible is one of the elements of trust. Therefore, when we deliver what we have promised to our team members this will allow us to be perceived as dependable, reliable, and knowledgeable – which are all drivers of trust [7].
  • Understanding commitments and expectations of each other can help to increase trust in the workplace. Making your commitments clear and understanding the expectations of your colleagues will enable you to be perceived as transparent and able to meet the needs of your team
  • Acknowledging the emotions of other team members can help to increase trust as this is fundamental to our identities and inner experiences. Therefore, when someone acknowledges our emotions, we feel more validated and humanised [4]. This can be achieved by actively listening to your team members’ concerns and showing kindness and compassion [7]. Research has shown that effects are stronger when we acknowledge negative emotions rather than positive emotions. This is because acknowledging negative emotions is perceived to involve higher effort [8]

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How can Impact help?  

Building trust between members of a team takes time however leaders can support this process by creating opportunities for individuals within the team to get to know each other better, become aware of each other’s strengths and unique contributions to the team, and build a shared understanding of how they are going to work together more effectively. We have successfully supported clients with achieving those outcomes by designing and facilitating bespoke team development workshops, providing team members with the right environment to help them explore what is needed to further build and strengthen trust, thus increasing collaboration and support within the team.

Click here to find out more about how we can help you and your organisation.

Helpful resources

  1. Watanuki, H. M., & Moraes, R. O. (2022). Trust In Virtual Teams: A Systematic Review Of Information Systems Literature. JISTEM – Journal of Information Systems and Technology Management. Doi: 10.4301/S1807-1775202219006
  2. Zak, P. J. (2017). The Neuroscience of Trust. Retrieved from:
  3. Serrat, O. (2017). Building trust in the workplace. Knowledge Solutions (627-632). doi: 10.1007/978-981-10-0983-9_69
  4. Yu, A., Zlatev, J., & Berg, J. (2021). What’s the Best Way to Build Trust at Work? Retrieved from
  5. Kildiushova, T. (2021). Building Trust In Virtual Teams (Doctoral dissertation, Universität Linz).
  6. Grayson, K. (2016). Cultivating Trust Is Critical—and Surprisingly Complex. Retrieved from:
  7. Sinha, R (2021) New to the Team? Here’s How to Build Trust (Remotely). Retrieved from:
  8. Yu, A., Berg, J. M., & Zlatev, J. J. (2021). Emotional acknowledgment: How verbalizing others’ emotions fosters interpersonal trust. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes164, 116-135.
  9. Hall, J. (2021) Why A Focus On Employee Trust is Essential. Retrieved from: