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 | By Patricia Mish


An Essential Component in a Workplace

I admit I envy the workplace environment at some cutting-edge tech companies: A full breakfast bar replete with 37 brands of cereal; gourmet chefs serving low-cost, nutritious meals; ping-pong tables and gyms for recreation; every day is casual day. You get the picture.

But even the most posh and trendy office won’t feel like home if it lacks a basic building block of all human relationships: trust.

Trust can erode gradually in a number of ways:

  • Perhaps the company’s leadership team withholds bad news, such as poor earnings or the possibility of company-wide layoffs. Silence can fuel rumors, which can erode trust.
  • Employees may begin to express concerns about company policies to one another at the coffee machine (or cereal bar), clamming up when a supervisor walks in.
  • Employers who excessively monitor employees, whether in-person or remotely, can sow resentment. At the same time, employees who consistently fail to follow through on tasks and projects can contribute to a breakdown of trust.

To rebuild trust, both employers and employees can learn from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians: “Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” (4:25)

What does that look like in a workplace setting?

1. Transparency.  

Managers: Share details about company performance with your team. Invite them to contribute ideas and strategies to help strengthen the company. In good times, share the wealth through bonuses or pay increases. In bad times, give employees advance notice if layoffs are a possibility.

2. Communication.

Share concerns before they snowball. Does it annoy you that an employee consistently misses deadlines? Say something, and find a solution together. Do you feel as if your manager does not take your suggestions seriously? Ask why, ideally in person and not via email.

3. Talk to each other.

If you share office space, chat in person where possible. If you work at different sites, pick up the phone or set up a video conference.

4. Don’t underestimate the power of fun.

Just as vacations can bring families together, workplace outings can help us see one another as human beings instead of cubicle-mates or bosses. Take on a Habitat for Humanity project or head to the ballpark together. Celebrate birthdays.

Team-building won’t and shouldn’t banish all conflict, but it creates a reservoir of trust. We can turn to the same chapter of St. Paul’s words to the Ephesians: “Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.” (4:32)