Trust in the workplace: 9 ways to build employees’ trust

Published on 9/15/2022 by Smriti Arya

Building trust in the workplace is potentially at the core of every employee-employer relationship. In this article, we will discuss what trust means in the workplace, why it is essential to build trust, and some ways to earn your employees’ trust.

Building trust in the workplace

Do you know what causes burnout in people? It could be a lack of trust. The study published on Business Wire reveals that “nearly two-thirds of employees say trust has a direct impact on their sense of belonging at work”. Also, one in five employees (22%) did not refer their friends, family members, or former colleagues to an open role because they didn’t trust their organization, according to the same survey report.

Trust can be considered the foundation for building strong relationships and creating a productive work culture. From this perspective, learning the importance of building trust in the workplace and some ideal practices around how to earn and maintain trust can be important for boosting workplace productivity.

It could be done using many ways —for example— by avoiding micromanagement, fostering peer-to-peer communication, or using HR software to gather employees’ feedback.

What is trust in the workplace?

The Britannica Dictionary defines trust as “a belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.” It can be assumed as:

  • Being able to have a sense of confidence when interacting with someone
  • Having the ability to anticipate that someone will act in a particular way
  • Building a level of credibility over time

Trust in the workplace also typically works with a similar approach. Trusting your employees may improve their morale and productivity. For your employees to be dedicated to doing their work efficiently, they might want you to trust them and vice versa.

Defining trust in the workplace

Now, you could have a question about how to build trust in the workplace. Before we take a look at ways to establish trust in the workplace, we will learn the importance of earning employees’ trust in the organization.

Why is trust important in the workplace?

Research published on Globe Newswire says that “Canadian workers’ satisfaction is down by 3% and their commitment to work has dropped by 6% since 2021”. Another study by LifeWorks reveals that “20% of Canadian have experienced increased aggression/conflict at work and have a mental score more than 10 points below the average national score”.

Taking this into account, establishing trust in the workplace could offer your employees a culture of mutual respect and transparency. They could be proud of where they work and could go above and beyond for your organization’s success.

Below are some other reasons why building trust in the workplace could play an important role:

Can improve collaboration and teamwork

According to AIIR Consulting, high-level teams with greater levels of trust are more innovative and engaged and can overcome challenges as they arise. Keeping this in mind, trust among the team members can have a big impact on how they collaborate and interact on the same project.

Can help overcome disengagement

Lack of employee engagement could become a bottom-line issue for businesses. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report, employees who are actively disengaged or not engaged cost the world US$7.8 trillion in lost productivity.

Having trust in your employees could keep them more involved and engaged at work. Now, you could have a question about what it has to do with trust in the workplace. Well, trust can have a huge impact on an employee’s productivity, and as such, should be cultivated and enhanced.

Could reduce stress and burnout in the workplace

A research study published by Capterra also reveals that 22% of surveyed Canadian employees cite lack of support from the manager as a stress factor at work. Since stress and burnout could negatively affect employee productivity, finding ways to build trust in the workplace could help overcome these challenges at work.

An organization with a trustful work environment is likely to generate greater staff morale than organizations with lower levels of trust. When you trust your employees, they may feel more comfortable, experience less workplace stress, and have more faith in senior leadership.

Could help enhance employee loyalty and retention

A research study by CanadaLife’s Workplace Strategies for Mental Health found that more than a third of Canadian workers are feeling burned out. The same study measured a wide range of factors related to how employees feel at work. Those factors include everything from recognition to engagement, workload, and safety.

Employees may feel burnout because they feel a lack of trust from or recognition of their abilities. Given this circumstance, organizing trust-building activities such as informal icebreaker sessions, outdoor scavenger hunts, or trust walks amongst teams could help build trust in the workplace.

Let’s now look into what you can possibly do to create a stronger employee-manager relationship and establish trust in the organization.

Here are 9 ways to build trust in the workplace

1. Create an open and transparent culture

Organizations that foster an open and transparent culture can potentially retain employees better than companies that do not trust their staff. According to the research published on Newswire, “employees’ engagement rates peaked at 73% in Q2 2020, before falling to 67% by Q4. After maintaining rates ranging from 65%-69% in 2021, employee engagement fell to 62% in Q1 of 2022.” The same study also indicates that workers’ desire to stay at their current organization continues to decrease.

On the other hand, “highly engaged employees typically work more hours per week than their counterparts” as they find work more interesting”, according to an article by Gallup.

Without transparency, people may tend to make up their own truth, resulting in misinformation in the workplace, leaving people frustrated and left out. Keeping this in mind, you may use a shared platform for interactions, hold weekly calls, or invite honest feedback to create a culture of openness and transparency could help establish trust at work.

2. Foster peer-to-peer communication

Fostering peer-to-peer communication at the workplace could help employees and employers stay connected and communicate effectively. This practice could not only build trust among employees but also establish a strong manager-employee relationship and empower knowledge sharing in the organization.

Using the calendar management feature of tools such as employee scheduling software, employers can easily schedule meetings with their employees by looking at employees’ availability. You may leverage other typical features of employee scheduling software such as time tracking to strengthen the potential of peer-to-peer communication at the workplace.

3. Cultivate a culture of praise and appreciation

Another way to earn employees’ trust could be by appreciating their work. Create a culture of camaraderie by praising your employees’ outstanding efforts.

You may show recognition by giving verbal praise, sending thank you messages often and distributing rewards. Appreciation rewards can be distributed via employee recognition software that facilitates peer recognition and administration of rewards. Everyday recognition could establish a sense of community and help employees feel emotionally safer. They might also be more likely to trust their workplace.

4. Avoid micromanaging

According to Gartner, “Micromanagement is a pattern of manager behavior marked by excessive supervision and control of employees’ work and processes, as well as limited delegation of tasks or decisions to staff.”

It typically happens when managers do not trust their employees’ actions and keep supervising and checking every small task. To build a high-trust workplace, you should ensure that your employees don’t feel pressured because of extreme supervision. As a result, avoiding micromanaging could be a good practice.

5. Keep your employees engaged

Encouraging employees to interact with one another could also help build trust on all levels of the organization, and not just between employer and employee. Organizing engagement activities can be another way to increase employee retention and promote inclusive work culture.

You may throw workplace parties, arrange lunch and learn sessions, hold sports events, or organize charity and fundraising events to keep your employees engaged at work.

6. Pay attention to non-verbal communication

There’s a famous saying that your actions speak louder than words. When trying to establish trust with your team members, your body language should potentially show empathy and make others feel comfortable around you.

Also, reading your employees’ body language could help you understand if they are happy working with you, giving you space to take appropriate actions to make them feel satisfied and comfortable.

7. Respond constructively to employees’ problems

The law in Quebec requires employees to be honest and loyal to their employer. However, loyalty could also depend on whether the employer trusts an employee.

In order to create a high-trust culture in an organization, you should ideally respond to your employees’ issues in a constructive way. Ask them questions about potential problems they are facing in the workplace. Listen to their concerns and ask what you can do to make them feel validated in the workplace.

8. Invest in your employees’ development

Investing in your employees’ growth means you are potentially investing in the success of your organization. People tend to trust managers who make them feel valued. To ensure your employees’ development, you may plan to invest in some courses available on online learning management platforms to help them grow professionally.

9. Be honest and give feedback frequently

Giving and asking for feedback could be another ideal practice to build trust in the workplace. When managers provide constructive feedback, employees might consider it helpful and work on improving their performance.

Similarly, when an employer gets feedback from employees, they should work on it and make sure that they meet their employees’ expectations.


Considering the many different aspects discussed above, it can be safely assumed that trust is potentially an essential element of a productive and safe work environment. Implementing ways to earn employees’ trust in the workplace should ideally be a top priority for all managers and leaders.

What’s next? Check our catalogue of human resources software to find the tool that suits you best.

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

About the author

Smriti is a Content Analyst for Capterra Canada, helping SMBs deliver key insights into software, business and tech trends.

Smriti is a Content Analyst for Capterra Canada, helping SMBs deliver key insights into software, business and tech trends.