The Business Returns on High-Trust Work Culture

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How high-trust workplace culture benefits your bottom line. 

As we describe in our book, A Great Place to Work For All, a high level of trust is central to a great workplace culture. Our data and other evidence have demonstrated that high-trust cultures win in business.

For 30 years, Great Place to Work has studied and recognized organizations with high-trust cultures, in part through the Best Workplaces lists.

For these companies, a defining feature of being recognized as a great workplace is a high level of organization-wide trust, as described by employees in our employee survey

This research, along with findings from Harvard Business Review, Wharton, Duke and more, illustrates that high levels of trust pay off.

1. Stock market returns two to three times greater than the market average.

For more than a decade, an independent investment firm has tracked the stock performance of the publicly traded Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For.

In a simulated portfolio that is reset with newly named list companies each year, the research shows Best Companies have a cumulative return nearly three times the benchmark Russell 3000 and Russell 1000 indices. 

A separate, independent study came to similar conclusions. Alex Edmans of the London Business School conducted a complex four-year study that proved a high-trust culture precedes the Best Workplaces’ strong stock market performance, and not the other way around. 

He also found the 100 Best Companies delivered stock returns that beat their peers by two to three percent per year over a 26-year period.

2. Turnover rates approximately 50% lower than industry competitors.

What if you could cut your staff turnover in half? Across industries, we’ve found that a high-trust culture correlates to employee loyalty. At the companies with the highest levels of trust, an average of 87% say they “want to work here for a long time.”

Why? Trusting your people to work autonomously creates a sense of community and helps build a healthy team spirit. Our research also shows that in high-trust work environments, people feel confident in themselves and each other.

They create and innovate, and know that if they make a mistake, their team members will support them and see the situation as an opportunity for growth.

These are all qualities that make employees want to stick.

 3. Greater customer, client and patient satisfaction.

A Great Place to Work study of the hospitals that made the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list found on average these high-trust hospitals have happier patients. 

Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) patient satisfaction scores were significantly higher than the U.S. average for overall hospital rating. Patients at these high-trust hospitals were also more likely to recommend the hospital to others.

As patients are the end “customer” in a health care setting, these results demonstrate the positive impact a high-trust culture can have on the overall customer experience.

Establishing a foundation of trust in the workplace is the smartest investment you can make for your organization. Our Great Place to Work® Trust Index Survey can help you uncover your employees’ levels of organizational trust, which is integral to building a great workplace culture. Get started today.

Claire Hastwell

Claire is our Content Marketing Manager. She works with our data and culture experts to bring you the most useful insights and advice. When she’s not penning blogs on work culture, she’s rolling out her yoga mat, resisting the urge to eat peanut butter pretzels, and comparing Australian and American colloquialisms.

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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.