What comes to mind when you think of a 'great workplace'?

Great perks and benefits. Incredible facilities. Super pay and bonuses. Play areas and sleep pods. At-desk massage, bring your dog to work days, and free gourmet food, available around the clock? Right! Although many workplaces offer at least some of these features, some of them are also pretty lousy places to work. And the opposite is also true. Many employees in workplaces which offer few, if any, of these perks, report that they are great workplaces. How come?

Research by Great Place to Work and many academics over the past 40 years has found the key factor which causes an employee to report that theirs is a great workplace is the level of trust that they enjoy with their managers. High-trust creates a great workplace. Low-trust means a lousy workplace. You know that from your own experience, I'm sure? We have always known that people leave managers, not companies - it's a cliché at this stage. But it's important to be precise - good employees don't leave just any managers - they leave low-trust managers. And they stay with high-trust managers.

Repeat: Employees stay with managers that they trust.

And that single fact is the key to understanding the incredible competitive advantage that the World's Best Workplaces - a.k.a. the World's Most Trusted Workplaces - enjoy.

Here's how it works....

Employees stay with managers that they trust. The longer they stay, the more valuable they become to the organisation. They understand the systems better, they know the right people to talk to, they can help customers better. Innovation flourishes - people feel confident to make suggestions and to try new ways of doing things, knowing that their manager will support them if things don't quite work out.  They want the enterprise to succeed and are immensely proud of what they achieve with their colleagues. They feel comfortable together, accepted for who they are. They feel appreciated, valued. The company's reputation grows. Word gets around that theirs is a great place to work. More people want to work there, and this greater choice allows the organisation to find people who are just the right fit for the prevailing culture. And people stay where they feel they belong. Things get done quicker. Things get done smarter. And things get done right first time. This greater productivity feeds through to greater profitability. Employees get a fair share of the rewards, and investment in facilities and benefits reflects the respect that the organisation has for its people. It takes many people at every level in the organisation to create a great workplace. But it starts with the managers. 

Because the manager is the bridge - the only bridge - between the ideals and ambitions of senior leaders and the lived day-to-day experience of each employee. Values prominently expressed in the reception area are mere words. It's the day to day behaviour and attitudes of my manager alone that will determine whether those words acquire real meaning for me, or are simply empty phrases echoing around a low-trust, low-engagement couldn't-care-less workplace.

You can read more about the benefits enjoyed by high-trust workplaces in Trust Rules, and you'll also find suggestions for how to find out more about this fascinating subject. In the meantime, I recommend the resources below for starters.

In this highly aclaimed talk, Alex Edmans, Professor of Finance at London Business School, explores the long-term impacts of social responsibility and challenges the idea that caring for society is at the expense of profit.

3X Stockmarket performance over 28 years

Thursday 28th August: we are finalising this link and will put it live by Friday 21st August - sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Questions or comments?.

If you have a specific question that you'd like answered please contact me here. I'm passionate about Trust Rules and I read and reply to every question, usually within a week or ten days.

If you're not convinced that Trust Rules, tell the world 'why' in the comments below.  The main rule is 'Be nice'! Sure, let's have a heated-debate, but let's be respectful, polite, and well-mannered. Thanks!