In The News: Does Lower Trust In The Workplace Lead To Lower Productivity?

August 16, 2023 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by John Dujay, Human Resources Director

Greater trust equals better outcomes

“If you trust those you’re working with and you feel that you are trusted, it’s much easier to relax and let go of image concerns and just focus on your work because you’re not managing conflicts or things like that. So it does jive with what we know about productivity,” says Erin Reid, professor of human resources and management at McMaster University in Hamilton.

Trusted employees are also prepared to work hard, found the study, as 40% of respondents will go above and beyond versus those who don’t feel trusted (33%).

This workplace perception plays a big role in worker performance, says Reid.

“A lot of my research is around image and identity and people trying to live up to idealized expectations about what it means to be a worker, and if I think about that from a trust angle, if you have high trust, you might be able to, as an individual, let go of those idealized expectations and just be yourself and do your work.”

“Whereas if you don’t have a lot of trust, that might be a situation where you’re trying to be the perfect reporter, for example, or the perfect lawyer and all the effort that you put into being the perfect incumbent of your role is efforts that you’re not putting into actually doing your work.”

Wellness goes down with lack of trust

By not feeling trusted, employees have worsened health outcomes, according to the Slack research. Stress and anxiety are greater by a factor of 2.3 times, which leads to a lesser sense of belonging by 4.2 times.

Feelings of distrust could have grown due to a new feature found in many workplaces, says Reid.

“We increasingly have all kinds of employee monitoring that happens now that didn’t used to happen, so people know that their email can be monitored, their internet usage as well, or if you’re working in a warehouse sometimes your steps are monitored; truck drivers, their mileage and their routes are monitored. All of that monitoring conveys that the employer fundamentally does not trust the employee — it’s baked into it,” she says.

Read the full article published in the Human Resources Director.

Erin Reid

Human Resources and Management

Erin Reid (Ph.D. Harvard University) studies inequality, careers, and the design of contemporary knowledge work. One line of research focuses on the reasons for the persistence of gender inequality in time-greedy professions and organizations. Another series of projects explores how professionals working in the gig economy build careers. The goals of her research are two-fold: to help people build satisfying careers, and to help employers build inclusive workplaces. Dr. Reid has studied people working in a variety of fields, including management consulting, charter schools, journalism and independent science.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comment Policy

We generally welcome discussion on our blog posts. However, we reserve the right to edit or delete comments in certain situations:

  • Comments which include unrelated or suspicious links or messages (spam).
  • Comments which are off topic.
  • Comments which attack or threaten individuals or a group of people.
  • Comments which include profanity or messages that would generally be considered offensive or inappropriate by the McMaster community.

This site is moderated by the DeGroote Marketing and Community Engagement team. If you have any questions please email Katie Almas.