Why High Trust Companies Win — and How to Cultivate Trust

Steve Glaveski
9 min readApr 6, 2020

Only 15 per cent of employees worldwide are engaged by their jobs — that is, only 15 per cent are emotionally invested in delivering on their organisation’s mission.

Six out of seven people you see out on the city streets and in the workplace are either not engaged or actively disengaged.

Fancy most of the people in the world spending most of their time doing something that doesn’t engage them — it’s nothing short of a collective human tragedy!

This has a lot to do with the way that the modern organisation inadvertently sabotages its people’s potential through counterproductive norms which treat educated and capable adults like children.

These norms include unreasonable expectations on:

  • availability: an expectation that employees are always available
  • responsiveness: an expectation that employees will respond immediately to internal and external correspondence
  • meeting attendance: an expectation that people should attend every meeting they’re invited to — no matter how long or inconsequential.

So where do these norms come from?

Aside from apparent holdovers from the factory floor where presence was for the most part correctly conflated with productivity, a number of factors came together to bring us to the present day.

But first, why is trust so important?

Humans Need Trust to Flourish

As David Rose argued in his book, Why Culture Matters Most, prosperity requires large group cooperation. This requires trust, but as societies grow larger this becomes more difficult to sustain.

Human flourishing requires the general prosperity that comes from a free market system.

Without trust, the foundations of the economy come crashing down. There is a danger of ‘redistributive favouritism’, which undermines trust in the system generally. This is manifest in inequality, political tribalism and left-leaning voices angrily calling for a redistribution of wealth due to a withering away of trust. This view was only hardened by the banker- instigated financial crisis of…

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Steve Glaveski

CEO of Collective Campus. HBR writer. Author of Time Rich, and Employee to Entrepreneur. Host of Future Squared podcast. Occasional surfer.