Leaders, founders, and heads of HR trying have been wrestling for years with the question, "How can I create a great workplace?"

To answer that question, look no further than the research behind Fortune magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For© list.

Great Place to Work® -- the global research consultancy that partners with Fortune to conduct the annual study of those "best companies" -- boils it down to one best human behavior: trust.

How The Behaviors of High Trust Produce Results (When The Right Leaders Are In Place)

The research on those companies (Google being #1 on the list) says that 92 percent of employees surveyed believe that management is transparent in its business practices. And transparency begets trust.

The study found that these "Best Companies to Work For" have leaders who, to ensure success, do several things year in, year out that correlate well with leadership trust behaviors:

  • They keep the lines of communication open.
  • They share their vision for the future with employees.
  • They take the pulse of the organization by constantly listening and responding to what they hear so they can serve the needs of their people. Whether it's sharing quarterly financials or making strategic decisions, they make sure to listen.
  • They offer employees ample opportunities for training and development.

Author and thought-leader Stephen M.R. Covey couldn't agree more. In his book The Speed of Trust, Covey says that a team with high trust will produce results faster and at lower cost (not to mention it's free).

And it starts with leaders who demonstrate a combination of these factors:

  • A commitment to purpose or vision that inspires others to follow.

  • A strong character that does not compromise values.

  • A strong inclination to serve the needs of others before their own.

  • Keeping their word and delivering what they promise.

  • Genuine caring and compassion for their people--looking after their best interests, being receptive and engaging in non-judgmental listening.

  • Competence and expertise in their chosen field. 


Any company with a leadership team committed to developing a culture of trust can have similar results, if they are willing to change.

There is an absolute ROI when organizations invest in creating a high-trust culture. Great workplaces have significantly less turnover and attract employees who have a vested interest in their companies.

These factors ultimately lead to a competitive edge and enable companies to quickly bounce back from challenging situations.