Organizations Are Failing to Create Trust Internally

Senior Management Credibility Seen as a Problem in a Quarter of Companies
SEATTLE, WA (Aug. 20, 2008) – Most organizations recognize that trust is an important consideration in their company’s success, but many employees don’t feel it is being nurtured internally. The main culprit? Top management, according to a recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp).

According to the survey of hundreds of companies, one out of every five respondents does not feel his or her organization engenders trust. Another 40% think trust is nurtured only to a moderate extent. When segmented between low- and high-performing companies, the difference is more stark: A full 40% of low-performing companies feel their organizations do not nurture trust, while only 16% of respondents from high-performing companies feel the same.

“Trust is a core building block in developing a high-performance culture,” says i4cp Leadership Pillar Director Mary Key. “When employees don’t sense an environment where they can trust others, especially the leadership, productivity and morale spiral downward. It’s no surprise that those who reported higher levels of trust also rate their companies as high-performing.”

In line with trust issues, management’s credibility is understandably also taking a hit. According to the study findings, almost a quarter of the responding organizations said their senior management team’s credibility is lower than it was two years ago. That number rises to almost 30% in companies with more than 10,000 employees.

A big part of management’s falling credibility is the failure of senior leaders to deal with low-performing individuals or teams, with 56% of companies polled citing it as their top concern when it comes to building trust. Forty-six percent pointed to management’s iffy track record regarding trust issues, and 45% said there’s a feeling of “individual powerlessness” to effect change in their companies.

Despite the issues, there are very few formal programs inside of organizations today to restore trust. A full 87% of respondents say their organizations do not offer training programs that address this issue, 69% don’t utilize an ombudsman program to deal with concerns or complaints, and more than 60% report that employee surveys or audits on trust issues aren’t in place, or are in place to only a small extent.

However, the lack of formal programs might not be a big issue. When asked what ideas or initiatives they would recommend for improving trust in their organizations, most respondents said that better communication practices, both informal and formal, need to be implemented across all levels of the organization. Many also specifically cited the need for better top-down communication from upper-level management and management’s need to “walk the talk” on trust issues.

The Taking the Pulse: Organizational Trust survey was conducted by i4cp, in conjunction with, in July 2008. There were a total of 393 respondents. The full results of the survey are available exclusively for all i4cp corporate members.

About i4cp, inc.

i4cp is the world’s largest private network of corporations focused on improving workforce productivity. Our vendor-free community facilitates innovation by giving our members – among the largest and most respected organizations in the world – access to:
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  3. Tools to put ideas and research into action,
  4. Technology to enable members to easily access tailored information and execute workforce strategies.

With more than 40 years of experience and the industry’s largest team of human capital analysts, i4cp is the definitive destination for organizations seeking innovative ways to improve workforce productivity. For more information, visit


Greg Pernula
Director of Research Services, i4cp, inc.
(727) 345-2226
Erik Samdahl
Erik is the head of marketing at i4cp, and has nearly 20 years in the market research and human capital research industry.