Building Team Trust, Commitment,
and Loyalty in a New World of Work

The value of building team trust, commitment, and loyalty can't be overestimated. Reduced turnover costs are one benefit, but the ongoing benefit of retaining reliable, experienced employees on your team is invaluable.

If you’re over the age of 40, it's essential to remember that what makes workers loyal today may not be what made you loyal yesterday. It's tempting to think of compensation, seniority and benefits as top methods for achieving commitment and loyalty, but looking beyond our own personal experience can give us a true picture of how loyal today's workers are. Consider the following:

  • From a representative sample of over 2,000 employees, only 45% agreed that "I believe my organization deserves my loyalty"; 32% were neutral and 23% actively disagreed.
  • In the same study, 54% of employees disagreed that their leaders have high integrity.
  • Tom Peters advises new-economy workers: "Forget loyalty. Try loyalty to your Rolodex."
  • Aon's Loyalty Institute found that 13% of respondents distrusted their employers on the most basic level — workers did not feel free from fear, intimidation or harassment at work.
  • A Watson Wyatt Worldwide Study found that of the 7,500 employees they surveyed only half trusted their senior managers.

Management experts concede that success in building team trust, commitment, and loyalty has eroded due to corporate restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, and the increasing pace of change. The Aon research shows that trust is such a basic requirement that without it a company's other benefits and programs will not significantly raise employee commitment. Watson Wyatt found a relationship between trust and profitability. Where employees trusted executives, companies posted returns 42% higher than those where distrust was the norm. Clearly trust is key to loyalty — particularly in a tight labor market.

So how do we foster building team trust, commitment, and loyalty in a constantly changing environment? The answer can be surprisingly uncomplicated. There are certain leadership behaviors that matter to employees, and managers who consistently practice them are rewarded with deeply loyal staff. These behaviors center on the foundation of personal integrity, and include:

  • Setting a personal example
  • Respecting others
  • Sharing information and involving employees in decisions
  • Admitting mistakes
  • Listening
  • Being objective and consistent
  • Providing effective feedback
  • Following up

A key executive of one of North America's largest corporations discusses the concept of a "Loyalty Contract" — a reciprocal relationship of loyalty based on trust. This concept of building team trust and loyalty in the workplace isn't really any different than less formal agreements we have in all areas of our lives. We agree to be loyal if loyalty is returned to us. This doesn't mean perfection on both sides; in fact, it can be the opposite. As loyalty increases, so does tolerance and forgiveness. Establishing a loyalty contract with employees isn't difficult — it begins with trust and integrity. Simple, right?

Content Editors or Webmasters: You may reprint this article providing you include the following “About the Author” information in its entirety. (Including a hyperlink to

Wendy Phaneuf is a professional speaker and author and a global expert in employee motivation and retention. Wendy is also the Founder of The Training Source and — a one-stop information source that helps leaders and their organizations enhance employee motivation and retention.

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