A culture of strong communication, shared values and inclusivity can foster a cohesive and productive workforce. Quite simply, employees who believe and trust in a company's corporate culture are more likely to go the extra mile.
However, achieving such employee trust in corporate culture has always been challenging, and the global pandemic thrusting employees into a more decentralized working arrangement almost overnight has added another layer of complexity.
As many firms have rapidly discovered—if they had not already—technology can be key to facilitating effective company communication between diverse and increasingly dispersed workforces to build strong and lasting relationships.
Unified communications (UC) solutions, for example, facilitate conversation and collaboration across numerous devices and applications supported by the cloud. UC allows employees to communicate more effectively even if physically distanced from their colleagues and managers, so they always feel supported, included and up-to-date on company goals and initiatives.
Why is employee trust in corporate culture so important?
Employee engagement is about solidifying a committed relationship between the workforce and the company so that individual workers believe in the organization's purpose and want to achieve its goals.
Central to building such a relationship is mutual trust and transparency. As professional services consultancy Deloitte wrote in its 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report, "transparency is the most valuable organizational currency" because "It helps engender trust and respect in a world where many may question an organization's true intent." Deloitte’s survey of top executives found that 84% felt the need to reconsider their employee experience to increase productivity and 27% said that lack of transparency was "creating a competitive disadvantage."
Transparency in decision-making and open and clear channels of communication are key to building employee trust in corporate culture. Managers who effectively communicate the reasons for company actions will be better positioned to bring employees along on the company journey and to foster faith and camaraderie. Similarly, employees who effectively communicate with their managers can build self- and manager-confidence in their individual commitment and abilities.
Working from home—previously a flexible trust-based benefit and now a necessity—has further increased the need for trust and confidence in both managers and employees alike.
But what does maintaining trust actually look like? According to Deloitte, it means "[s]haring information openly, discussing challenges and mistakes, and leading and managing with a growth mindset."
How can technology enable a corporate culture of trust, flexibility and teamwork?
There is little doubt that the global pandemic has accelerated digitization. As offices shuttered, companies quickly realized that robust cloud-based systems can help seamlessly connect all facets of their business even when they're physically apart.
In the same way, by ending communication silos, facilitating remote collaboration and supporting trust-building exercises, technology can improve corporate culture and foster more effective interactions between colleagues.
Communicate from one home to another
Face-to-face conversations are generally more beneficial than messaging and audio-only calls because facial expressions can convey meaning and sincerity. Similarly, UC platforms can more easily facilitate much-needed face time with colleagues, even if employees are working in the same vicinity: no need to find a meeting room or to stand awkwardly by the water cooler—simply video call. But doing so becomes even more vital with a geographically dispersed workforce.
Talking face-to-face can help maintain relationships and build new ones, which is especially important with new recruits. Furthermore, video calls from home allow a glimpse into an employee's usually unseen space, where kids or family may pop in and out, helping to convey different aspects of who they are and, ultimately, allowing their colleagues to understand them better.
Collaboration requires a willingness to engage with others and to listen to and value diverse viewpoints. It can enable colleagues to feel like they can provide input and have a stake in ongoing projects, further encouraging transparency and trust in corporate culture.
UC platforms make collaboration easier than ever before. It might start with a video brainstorming session and move on to a collaborative cloud-based project document in which colleagues can work on different parts simultaneously (quickly running questions past each other via messenger) and end with a company-wide presentation or online screen-sharing exercise for constructive feedback. Either way, UC puts an end to working in silos, and enables colleagues to bounce ideas off each other across multiple platforms while also cutting down on admin.