Trust in the workplace is a hot topic this year, and T+D has published its fair share of articles examining this trend. In last month's issue, "Tuning In to Trust" cited a recent study by Interaction Associates on trust levels at work. The study found that trust took a nosedive since 2009 and has continued to decline each year during the recession. In 2012 barely a quarter of respondents indicated that they trust their leadership.
Although many employees are skeptical of their leaders, nearly three-quarters report that they are very much to moderately inclined to trust their colleagues, according to a recent survey by Lee Hecht Harrison, a career transition and development consulting firm. The survey reached 475 U.S. employees and asked, "How strongly do you trust your co-workers?" Thirty-four percent of respondents say "very much," 38 percent say "moderately," 17 percent say "slightly," and 11 percent say "not at all."
These findings show that while the relationship between employee and employer lacks trust, employees have built trusting relationships with one another. According to JC Heinen, senior vice president and leadership development global practice leader for Lee Hecht Harrison, several behaviors that help to establish and maintain trust in peer-to-peer relationships occur much more frequently among co-workers such as time spent together, regular communication, and social interaction outside of work.
Heinen adds that leaders can use some of these behaviors to build organizational trust—find opportunities to connect, stay visible, communicate more, and show genuine interest in employees. "Trust forms the foundation for higher levels of retention, productivity, and performance—critical to getting the 'above and beyond' behaviors that contribute to organizational success."