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Workplace trust

Trust defined

Trust is both more important and difficult to achieve.

Read the infographic.

Why is trust in the workplace important…

The ability to trust people might seem like a pleasant luxury, but economists are starting to believe that it's rather more important than that. Trust is about more than whether you can leave your house unlocked; it is responsible for the difference between the richest countries and the poorest.

In today's advanced economies, the degree of trust involved is extraordinary eg. complex cross-continental supply chains, with demanding quality standards or timeliness.

At the same time, the trust reported in many organisations has been declining over many years.

A lack of trust is directly damaging for economic growth (macro) and for a company's success (micro), holding back investments, entrepreneurship and innovation.

The general distrust of business tends to encourage unnecessary (as well as necessary) regulation.

What is workplace trust…

Trust equation is (Credibility X Reliability X Intimacy) / Self-orientation:

  • Credibility has to do with the words we speak - implied knowledge and experience of a person - credibility has a lot to do with social factors, displayed experience and interpersonal skills.
  • Reliability is all about our actions - the ability to consistently perform intended or required behaviour and processes, on demand and meeting required quality standards (e.g. customer service on faulty products, paying bills on time, following up on agreements and intentions).
  • Intimacy refers to the safety or security that we feel when trusting another person -in organisations, we see several inhibitors that hamper close and trusted relationships: silo mentality, bullying, lack of (perceived) safety to challenge, and related to this lack of constructive conflict.
  • Self-orientation is about our focus - the degree to which a person is seen to serve their own needs or the needs of others or the greater good. The more self-oriented a person is perceived, the lower the trust.

Our recommendations on building trust…

A trusted organisation has 4 components - enabling relationships, building reputation, behaving reliably and doing good:

  • Building reputation - externally - having a clear service offering and brand. Internally: having a clear vision and strategy, carried out by leaders, as well as how it benefits society and contributes to the greater good. Ensuring appropriate knowledge, experience and communication skills of your people.
  • Behaving reliably - ensure consistency of communication and operations over time - be transparent about your offering and ensure alignment, avoid over promising and under delivering.
  • Enabling relationships - having an organisation structure, design and culture that enables open communication, diversity and inclusion, establishing forums for collaboration (internally / externally) around strategic priorities.
  • Doing good - ensuring a customer focused approach to doing business. Catalysts include creating shared value with customers and employees, building a safe culture of serving the interests of all stakeholders - internally and externally. People are sharing knowledge, speak up, manage constructive conflicts and escalate inappropriate behaviours.

Contact us

Peter Wheeler

Partner, People & Organisation Consulting, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 (3) 8603 6504

Nick Myburgh

Partner, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 6271 3605

Paula Shannon

Partner, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 (7) 3257 5751

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