Everywhere I go, I keep reading about the importance of trust in the workplace.
Trust is essential for everything from job satisfaction, to employee engagement, collaboration, motivation, and productivity.
And, of course, intranet users must trust each other and the intranet manager, for an intranet to be a vibrant, collaborative and productive work space.
As such, the intranet can be a “thermometer” for trust, or the lack of it, in your organization.
Beyond the usual employee trust surveys and other traditional means of measuring trust in the workplace, the level and quality of interaction in your intranet can indicate the level of trust in an organization.
Here are some of the symptoms your intranet can give you that point to a lack of trust in your workplace:
1. Low number of comments and new ideas
Users post content, but rarely respond to other users’ posts. There is a lack of interaction between users. In brainstorming areas, few or no one goes out on a limb with their suggestions. They may fear being made fun of, or having their ideas stolen or used without credit.
2. Fear of the new
Especially when you’ve just launched your intranet, it’s normal for users to be hesitant of the new technology and platform. However, after adequate training and orientation from the intranet team, most users should be pretty eager to test the new system out. If not, it could be because they’ve been burned before and are now distrustful of shiny, new objects.
3. Everything’s rosy
Do your intranet users post only good news or talk only about the positive side of work? It may be because they don’t feel safe enough to bring up problems in the workplace.
4. Whining, complaining all the time
Or the opposite of #3 may be happening. Few users praise each other on the intranet. Instead, they focus on the ugly, negative, and unhappy side of things. Users may use the intranet to vent their frustrations and display their dissatisfaction with the organization.
5. Divisive language
When trust in the workplace is low, employees use a lot of “us vs. them” language. The tone is non-inclusive, with employees distinguishing and protecting their turf, instead of identifying with the entire organization.
6. Lack of authenticity
Users post only what’s safe and expected of them. Nobody dares to rock the boat, or share potentially contentious ideas. There is lack of healthy debate. Or, users are “stiff,” maintain their business-like demeanour and never show their personalities.
7. Nobody asks for help
Our final red flag is an intranet where no one asks for help or seeks advice. They may be afraid they won’t get an answer anyway (especially if #1 exists). Or they may fear other would take advantage of their need or weakness, so they don’t want to reveal them.
So what do you do if you observe any of these symptoms in your intranet? Do you panic, because there is lack trust in your organization?
These are only indicators, remember. They cannot and will not replace a comprehensive trust assessment of your organization. However, they can be good for raising red flags before things get worse. Alternatively, these indicators can be the last straw to convince management that your workplace has trust issues that need to be addressed.
Use these signs to recommend a deeper exploration on the level of trust in your organization. If you haven’t had a workplace trust assessment in a while, one may be in order in the near future. If trust issues have been coming up, but management has not been doing anything about it, then use these indicators to call for trust-building initiatives.
In a future post, we’ll look at how the intranet can help rebuild and strengthen trust in the workplace.
Until then, do share. Do you see any signs of low trust in your intranet? If so, how do you respond?
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