The Psychology in the Workplace Collaborative Blog

Why Organizational Trust Matters

By Dr. Courtney Keim
September 4, 2023

Who is the person you trust the most? For many of us, it might be a partner or spouse, a parent or family member, or a close friend. It is most likely someone you can be vulnerable with, someone you can count on when things get tough, someone you can depend on. As it turns out, trust is a crucial part of many relationships, including those at work.

Organizations function because the people in them trust one another. We trust that our coworkers will do their work well and on time, so that we can do the same. We trust that our employers will give us job security, paychecks, benefits, and opportunities in exchange for our hard work and perseverance. We trust that our employees will trust us enough to tell us when we are doing things well, and when we aren’t. Trust builds a healthy culture, where respect, fairness, and a sense of community can thrive.

But how exactly can an organization build trust? Trust is fragile, and may be particularly so in our current times. How can leaders maintain trust and persevere through times of crisis? What happens when major changes, such as new technologies, mergers, pandemics, or financial crises occur? Fortunately, research offers a solution.

Psychologically healthy workplaces are created when an organization has programs that address:

  • Work-Life balance (e.g., flextime, telework)
  • Health and safety (e.g., EAP, stress management)
  • Employee involvement (e.g., employee committees, decision-making groups)
  • Employee growth and development (e.g., training, skill development)
  • Employee recognition (e.g., employee awards, shout-outs).

My research shows that when an organization offers these programs, it builds a culture of trust, which in turn encourages employees to utilize these programs, even during times of incredible uncertainty. The outcomes are positive for both employees and employers: less stress and more motivation for workers, more productivity and less turnover for the organization.

Psychologically healthy workplaces create spaces where workers can be vulnerable and count on one another. During times of uncertainty, workers can trust that they will get through it OK, and get through it together.

To learn more about how organizations can build psychologically healthy workplaces and more about the research mentioned here, please attend our free webinar on October 6, 2023.