Workplace Culture, Trust, and Communication during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably pushed the agenda of workplace culture, trust, respect, and communication to the forefront of employee’s and employer’s minds. The future of many things were and still are put into question as job insecurity, business uncertainty, and real estate uncertainty create an urgent demand for effective, efficient and trusting workplace culture. Read on to find out more about the importance of workplace culture and the trust and communication needed to foster it.
As COVID-19 spread around the world it altered how people and businesses operate. Providing challenges for organisations and their leaders on how to maintain trusting relationships with employees who are struggling with disrupted work routines and daily uncertainly in nearly every aspect of life. To combat this uncertainty corporate psychologists put an emphasis on trust and ‘supervisory communication’ as a means to ease concerns and receive clear guidance to help navigate their disrupted work routines.
What is the importance of trust in the workplace?
Trust in the workplace has been found to correlate to performance, job satisfaction, commitment, and openness with feelings. These are things an organisation relies on to build a high level of mutual trust. Traditionally, an openness with feelings is not a core attribute that organisations look for in the past however, research on the relevance of emotions in the workplace has put focus on the construct of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence involves the ability to identify and perceive emotions, the ability to use emotions to facilitate thought, the ability to understand emotions and the ability to manage one’s emotions and the emotions of others as defined by the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT). In a recent study (Jordan et al., 2002) the relationship between emotional intelligence, trust and performance was investigated and found that teams that scored higher on emotional intelligence perform significantly better than lower scoring teams. The study was able to conclude that more emotionally intelligent individuals are more capable of forming cohesive and effective work teams that are built with trust than less emotionally intelligent individuals.
What is the importance of communication in the workplace?
Employees develop trust and respect through their interactions with co-workers and leaders as well as their experiences with the organisation. Supervisory communication represents a major component of a workplace’s internal communication system and previous research suggests that it can influence organisational performance (Cardon et al., 2019). The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) programme held a webinar during 2020 on assertive communication skills to highlight that effective communication and transparency are key to overcoming workplace obstacles especially during the challenging time of COVID. ILO revealed that three skills are highly regarded by employers which include, honesty, sense of vision and good communication skills. During the webinar participants were shown how to navigate aggressive and passive situations through the use of verbal and non-verbal aspects. By using concise and clear communication, with a positive and calm expression communication barriers are broken down. The webinar also acknowledged the importance of non-verbal communication with a focus on posture, voice volume and intonation, eye contact, and friendly facial expressions (International Labour Organisation, 2020).
How does this affect me?
Workplace culture and the building of trust and communication has its proven benefits. A global survey commissioned by The Workforce Institute studied the foundations of trust in the workplace and the results reveal alarming realities of what lack of trust and communication can do to the workplace:
• Employees who do not feel trusted are less productive as two-thirds (68%) revealed that the perception of low trust lowers their daily effort.
• More than half (58%) of employees say a lack of trust affects their career choices, including nearly a quarter (24%) who left a company because they did not feel trusted.
• Good retention can maximize company profits up to 4 times.
• On average, an employee’s leaving will cost the company 33% of their annual salary.
Workplace culture is a social medium which employees and employers can identify and form emotional bonds that satisfy their need for belonging, trust in leaders and job satisfaction. These needs in the workplace that were heightened by COVID-19 are underpinned by trust and communication and are key to building strong workplace cultures.
Jordan, P. J., Ashkanasy, N. M., Härtel, C. E. J., & Hooper, G. S. (2002). Workgroup emotional intelligence. Scale development and relationship to team process effectiveness and goal focus. Human Resource Management Review, 12(2), 195-214
Cardon, P. W., Huang, Y., Power, G. (2019). Leadership communication on internal digital platforms, emotional capital, and corporate performance: The case for leader-centric listening. International Journal of Business Communication.
International Labour Organisation. (2020, November 23). Creating a workplace culture of trust with effective communications amid the pandemic. https://www.ilo.org/jakarta/info/public/pr/WCMS_761784/lang–en/index.htm
Downey, Luke A.; Roberts, Jason; Stough, Con (2011) : Workplace culture emotional intelligence and trust in the prediction of workplace outcomes, International Journal of Business Science & Applied Management (IJBSAM), ISSN 1753-0296, International Journal of Business Science & Applied Management, s.l., Vol. 6, Iss. 1, pp. 30-40