By Larraine Solomon, Communications and Change Consultant
The UK General Election at the end of 2019 was a defining moment in British history. In many respects, it was a battle about Brexit, with a profound impact on the world for many years to come. But underlying this, and one of the recurring themes throughout the campaign was the thorny issue of trust. Why should I trust you, a politician, to keep your promises?
Last week the Edelman published its 2020 Trust Barometer. It revealed that ‘despite a strong global economy and near full employment, none of the four societal institutions that the study measures—government, business, NGOs and media—is trusted. The cause of this paradox can be found in people’s fears about the future and their role in it’.
The growth of social media has begun to shift levels of trust from a top-down to a horizontal approach in favour of colleagues and peers. Yet people within an organisation long to be able to trust in order to feel that they can do meaningful work that is appreciated every day. The way in which we communicate and the way leaders’ role model company values are essential to this.
Wouldn’t it be great if every employee within an organisation was based in a single location, spoke the same language and worked exactly the same hours? That way everyone could speak with each other face-to-face, and maybe trust would be less of an issue. The reality is very different.
As a previous Head of Communications at two leading global organisations, one of my key challenges has been to find great ways to establish a dialogue and unite people across dispersed offices, cultures and time-zones. In both cases, I wanted to find a way for leaders to inspire, tell stories, create a line of sight to business priorities and perhaps most important of all, listen. Employees needed to be able to collaborate, share ideas, solve customer problems and have essential information at their fingertips all the time. People needed to feel connected and trusted at a time and place that suited them – in the office, on a bus, at a coffee shop…
Down with the kids
It used to be the Millennials that were glued to social media, but now it’s most of us. If you can’t beat them, join them!
One of the most innovative and enduring ways that helped to solve the trust issue was through the introduction of digital workplaces which is essentially a tool to help bring together collaboration, communication, knowledge and processes.
Creating an environment where people can easily collaborate and share their best ideas was critical to our success. With limited resources, we needed technology that was easy to set up, intuitive to understand and provided a ‘consumer-grade’ experience – in a similar way to many of the social media sites we have become familiar with. We also wanted partners that would listen to us as customers, and respond to our ideas and feedback.
Trust us – we work here
What a difference the digital workplace is already making to the world of work for so many employees who, at the touch of a button are able to create communities that would never have been possible a few years ago, contributing to critical business conversations. People can share their thoughts, their ideas, imagination, and creativity for all the company to see. They can speak up and find global solutions to customer challenges.
It’s a great way for senior executives and customer-facing employees to collaborate on the real issues without messages getting distorted or diluted. Videos and podcasts can be easily distributed and people can comment in real-time.
And with a rise in the level of ‘authentic’ conversations comes an improvement in that all-important concept of trust with associated productivity gains.