The importance of trust in business, employment

Pillars of trust

Godknows Hofisi
Trust is a key consideration in business, employment or life generally. In simple terms trust means belief in the reliability, truth or ability of someone or having confidence or comfort in that person. This article looks at trust in business and the workplace.

Benefits of trust

There are many benefits arising from being trusted. These include the following:

For a Business

Enhanced brand or goodwill,


Customer loyalty,

Referred business by customers,

Attracting and retaining qualified and motivated employees,

Improve business performance through for example,

Increased sales,

Credit facilities by financial institutions and suppliers,

Favourable supplier prices and terms.

For an Employee

The employee will enjoy the following benefits from being trusted:

Consideration for promotion,


Consideration for positions or responsibilities that require trust.

How to earn trust

Trust, like respect, is earned, not claimed. It speaks to the character of an organisation or an employee. It is common practice for businesses, customers or employers to check on whether another business or employee can be trusted before contracting them.

Many questions are asked such as “Can they be trusted?”

“Can we put our faith in him/her?”, “Won’t he/ she let us down?”, “Is he/she one of us?”.

Some of the ways to build or improve trust are explained hereunder.

For a business

Marketing mix or the “Ps” of marketing

For those with an appreciation of marketing it is important to consistently address the marketing mix or the “Ps” of marketing to the satisfaction of your customers. These Ps include:

Product, being the product or service you offer,


Prices you charge for your products,

Promotion, that it how you promote your goods and services,

Place, being the place you operate from or sell your products,

Packaging, being the appearance of products,

Positioning, how you are positioned in the hearts and minds of customers (brand perception),

People, the human capital responsible for your marketing and related activities

Core values

A business is expected to have documented vision, mission and values. The values as crafted and more importantly as practised define an organisation’s identity. Some of the values include fairness, transparency, integrity, respect and continuous improvement.

Respecting contracts

Trust is normally lost if a party fails to respect contractual obligations especially on finances.         Some business or individuals may find it convenient to renege on a contractual obligation especially if it competes with the opportunity to make profit. Soon the market will know and withhold its trust.

Conflict resolution

A business with fair, transparent and effective conflict resolution mechanism is trusted by its         stakeholders. Such conflict can be around contractual provisions such as price, performance or even employment contracts with staff.

Negative publicity and public relations

Negative publicity kills a brand and may invite doubts over whether a business can be trusted. A business should try as much as possible to safeguard its good name. Large corporates use public relations (“PR”) functions to relate with the market.

 Risk management practices

A business with good risk management practices earns trust especially from big businesses. Such   practices cover areas such as product quality, confidentiality over information, business continuity, etc.

 Calibre of staff

The need to recruit, train and develop staff of high calibre and trustworthy who identify with the business’ values cannot be overemphasised.

Policies and procedures

A business should craft and implement effective policies and procedures for internal comfort and that of its stakeholders especially customers and suppliers. This is why many customers and suppliers prefer dealing with ISO certified businesses.

Employee at the workplace

In an employment situation most employers or superiors loathe the following:

Second guessing a subordinate,

Literally sleeping with one eye open,

Keep looking over their shoulders,

Constantly supervising a subordinate.

William Shakespeare in his book “Macbeth” says “There is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face”. Put simply it means that it is difficult to trust a person by simply looking at him/her. However, in my view, an employee can behave in a manner that earns the employer’s trust. This can be achieved through for example:


By not disclosing sensitive information to third parties such as competitors.

Openness or transparency

Acting in an open or transparent way so that the employer or superiors do not doubt you.

Avoid unnecessary talk

A motor-mouth can make inadvertent disclosures to his/her detriment.

Avoid negativity

A positive mind sees good and hope, and motivates constructive behaviour.

Handling different views

Be persuasive rather than confrontational for your different views to be heard. Know your role      and limits in your organisation. Confrontation with authorities can be career limiting.

Dealing with disputes

How one carries himself/ herself in a situation of dispute or even elation can define you. Lack        of self-control or resorting to extreme means usually erodes trust.

Two faced

Some people try to hunt with the hounds and run with the hare. Soon they will be discovered.


Teamwork instead of individualism enhances trust. Avoid being a speed merchant who rushes to the superiors to misrepresent a group idea as his/hers.

Deliver on your assignments/promises

If you deliver on your assignments, targets or promises you will be viewed as reliable which builds trust.

Loyalty and support

Be loyal and supportive. A rolling stone gathers no moss.


Godknows Hofisi, LLB(UNISA), B Acc(UZ), CA(Z), MBA(EBS,UK) is a legal practitioner/conveyancer with a local law firm, chartered accountant, insolvency practitioner, consultant in deal structuring and tax and is an experienced director including as chairperson. He writes in his personal capacity. He can be contacted on +263 772 246 900 or [email protected].



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