Trust Deficit At Work



When we hear the word trust, the immediate impression one develops is of belief and confidence in an individual and his/her abilities. This belief can be held for an individual in his/her personal and professional sphere of life. As per a recent global survey, about 90% Indian employees believe that trust at work must be earned.


The survey further suggests that 64% employees believe that showcasing trust in their abilities has a direct impact on their productivity and belonging at work. An Accenture report also states that employees at organizations with a high degree of trust are 74% less stressed at work, thereby benefiting the company’s bottom line. There is a growing awareness of how trust at the workplace needs to be maintained amongst employees, and most importantly between management and the general workforce. The lack of it results in a work environment of trust deficit which can heavily impact business.


What Is Trust Deficit?


To put it simply, trust deficit refers to the lack of belief or faith an employee has in his/her organization or its leaders. This can lead to a lower productivity rate and lack of interest to work. When employees don’t believe in their employers, they look for opportunities to jump ship to an organization which generates the said trust and motivates them to work harder.


What Causes Trust Deficit?


1) Egocentrism

A factor that creates distrust between an employee and his/her leader is egocentric behavior. Those employers who share information or make specific decisions that empower only a certain group of employees are consciously costing the organization’s investments in the employees. This continued behaviour signals a leader’s inability to trust the team under any circumstance. When such situations occur too regularly, the inability to trust teams trickles down faster, affecting each employee ultimately. Secrecy rises and soon one is left helpless in a toxic environment.


2) Communication gap

Trust deficit can occur when there is breakdown in communication between a leader and its workforce. When leaders communicate with a select few, it indicates that only certain employees are “trustworthy”, and that the organization doesn’t have faith in its workforce. This attitude can create silos, affecting output and weakening an employee’s loyalty towards the company.


3) Lack of empathy

The lack of empathy shown by a leader towards his/her team members paves the way for trust deficit within a workforce. When a manager or leader refrains from getting involved with their team’s woes, in order to maintain a “professional relationship”, it causes more harm than good. Misconceptions of being indifferent and “rude” around certain managers start to increase. This can widen the trust gap between an employer and employee, ultimately shaking the foundation of running a business.


Techniques To Bridge Trust Deficit


1) Acceptance

While ideating, problem solving or working together in general, employers must invite suggestions, ideas and feedback. Moreover, instead of focusing on being right, open the platform to understand other perspectives of a situation and how things can be done differently. By creating this platform to hear other voices, it instills a safe environment that encourages positive criticism, thus building a work culture that is more accepting and fairer.

2) Frequent interaction

A good leader is one who looks out for the team through thick and thin. Leaders must put aside their personal preferences or biases and focus on communicating with the team at large to imbibe a sense of belonging amongst everyone. It is essential to share information that impacts the workforce at large to everyone in the company. Additionally, taking the time to know the team outside of work can improve interpersonal relationships. This signifies a culture of caring and friendly communication.


3) Compassion

While leaders might not want to come across as being emotional, demonstrating empathy would be beneficial for building trust within a workforce. By acknowledging your team members’ concerns, it showcases a sense of understanding and compassion a leader should exhibit. Not only does this motivate employees to go the extra mile in times of need, but it also enhances the overall morale of the organization.


Trust serves as the foundational stone for modern day working relationships. Organizational leaders who do not inspire trust cannot bring out the best in their workforce. Bridging a trust deficit takes time and requires equal effort from both, the employee and the employer. When a leader embodies the principle of altruism, regular communication and empathy in his/her professional being, it changes the way trust is built and helps eliminate any form of disbelief and doubt.