Are You One Frustrated Employee Away From Being Headline News?

by Fraser Marlow

Forge a workplace culture based on trust and communication

Organizations face a real threat to their stability when employees’ frustrations boil over. Very public takedowns throw them into the court of public opinion, catching leadership teams off guard. So how can organizations protect themselves in a media-driven society that feeds off cultural scandals? A vital defense system made up of smart strategies and an effective safety valve can help.

 It’s all over the headlines, but leaks are nothing new

Governments have for decades contended with such challenges, from Watergate to Wikileaks. In today’s corporate America, whistleblower websites have flourished. Consider Glassdoor and AppleInsider.

Many large and successful brands have fallen victim to this recent trend. Employees who don’t get satisfactory responses from senior leaders take their grudges to the internet. Many of these scandals start with a tweet, personal blog or facebook post. In each case, the issues escalated rapidly. The story boiled over into the public domain before the senior team could properly react.  Bloggers and an eager media amplify the culture shaming, well aware these stories resonate strongly with readers.

Corporate scandals grab the headlines: the scathing exposé of Amazon’s workplace culture from The New York Times, or when The LA Times took on United Airlines and Wells Fargo. Uber’s litany of ethics shortfalls led to the CEO’s ouster. The list goes on, and we are keeping a running tab here.

Culture shaming isn’t just for the megabrands

But it’s not just megabrands that risk challenges from disengaged employees discussing internal culture. Small companies are at risk, too. The headlines may be smaller and local, but damaging nonetheless.

Scandals at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Ripcord (an 80-person robotics tech startup), video game studio Quantic Dream and women’s underwear firm THINX all prove that you don’t have to be large, or have a male-dominated culture to fall foul of #CultureShaming.

You're only one frustrated employee away from headline news. #cultureshaming #workplaceculture Click To Tweet

A healthy workplace culture is the best insurance 

One where employees can respectfully debate issues. Individuals should trust they can question or even challenge senior executives. This requires thick-skinned leaders with strong communication skills and the ability to effectively manage sensitive situations. But it also demands a sustained focus and commitment. Senior leaders who demonstrate strong values and an openness to healthy dialogue will earn the trust of employees. Such environments greatly reduce the risk of staff turning to outside sources if they don’t feel heard.

Your employees need to vent, but how?

To support a culture of trust and communication, teams need dedicated tools. Provide them with a trusted platform for internal communication, such as Energage Connect. It allows employees to participate in a two-way dialogue with senior leaders, providing input and perspectives. The conversation is selectively anonymous, meaning employees can choose the degree to which they are comfortable revealing their identity. This enables leadership to gauge sentiment, dig into specific topics, and address emerging issues before they ever reach the boiling point.

Internal communication platforms are a small investment that reaps rewards in many ways:

  • Protecting the organization against built-up frustration.
  • Tracking the progress toward workplace culture goals.
  • Providing employees with the opportunity to show appreciation for each other.

Unlike internal message boards and social media, Energage Connect guides the conversation to the senior leadership team first, preventing a war of words from breaking out among polarized parties.  From the presidential elections to the recent Super Bowl, we have seen many organizations use these tools to get out ahead of – and successfully tackle – dissent brewing among the workforce.

Don’t let unheard feelings brew discontent. Foster a culture of trust and open communication. #workplaceculture Click To Tweet

Install a safety valve to get ahead any issues

Given the tendency of bad news going public first, today’s leadership teams need to be both aware and a step ahead of potential issues within their organization. Initiate dialogue rather than letting unheard feelings brew discontent and catch you off guard. Most of all, foster a healthy culture cultivated with trust and open communication. Engage with your entire workforce to provide an effective safety valve for workplace frustrations.

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