Stephen Covey: The 7 Low-Trust Organizational Taxes – Turnover/Churn

Employee turnover represents a huge cost for organizations, and in low-trust cultures, turnover is in excess of the industry or market standard. I’m not talking about the desirable turnover of non performers, but the undesirable turnover of performers. Low trust creates disengagements, which leads to turnover — particularly of the people you least want to lose. Performers like to be trusted and they like to work in high-trust environments. When they’re not trusted, it’s insulting to them, and a significant number will ultimately seek employment where they’re trusted. This turnover also flows from the first two taxes.

Stephen Covey

I worked at a company outside of one of the popular, business district areas in Bangkok in the beginning of 2016. When I spoke to every teacher, each of them had only been there for less than 5 months. I said to myself, “oh, that’s not good.” Sure enough and after three private students, the CEO of the company said he wouldn’t allow me to teach TOEIC because I’m “black.” I quit the job, shortly after. After that, and for the next three years, this company has been consistently posting vacant jobs on a teaching website.


Churn is the turnover of stakeholders other than employees. When trust inside an organization is low, it gets perpetuated in interaction in the marketplace, causing greater turnover among customers, suppliers, distributors, and investors. This is becoming increasingly an issue as new technologies such as blogs continue to develop, effectively empowering employees to communicate their experience to the world.

Stephen Covey

When employees aren’t trusted, they tend to pass that lack of trust on to their customers, and customers ultimately leave. That’s the bottom line.


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