Face-to-face communication key to repairing trust in UK business

A new report commissioned by events agency Top Banana and the Institute of Internal Communication has highlighted the key role events play in repairing broken trust in business caused by communication technology.

The study, compiled by Westminster Business School, found that trust in UK business has suffered a serious decline since the 2008 global financial crisis. It draws on recent academic and mainstream research in the areas of leadership, trust and communication and highlights the impact of ‘rich’ communication, that is relevant, insightful, clear and honest, in gaining trust, which is most often achieved through face-to-face communication.

“The presence of trust in an organisation has a considerable impact on the performance of that organisation,” said Nick Terry, managing director at Top Banana. “From better cooperation and more effective problem solving, to a positive work climate and employee engagement, the benefits of a trusting workplace are both well researched and understood by events professionals, as is the continued role of face-to-face communication in the corporate environment.

“Research tells us that employees still prefer to share ideas via face-to-face communication; therefore it’s vital that leaders and managers make themselves visible for both formal and informal conversations.”   

With just one in four members of the public trusting business leaders to do the right thing, one in five to tell the truth, and 54 per cent believing that business greed is the main driver behind innovation, those involved with the report consider UK business to be in the middle of an antitrust epidemic.

Citing, and evidencing, the clear disconnect  between the ease and frequency of electronic communication and employees’ desire to talk and exchange, the report highlights the central role of face-to-face communication to help business leaders address the current trust crisis.

Katalin Illes, Principal Lecturer in Leadership and Development at Westminster Business School and co-author of the report said: “Continuously declining levels of trust in society indicate that we are not relating to each other in the right way. Humans are social creatures and past and present findings confirm thatstrong, supportive, communities have higher survival rates and prosper more. This is also true of business communities.

“One key element of communication that business leaders should take into account is its ‘richness’. Face to face communication is still considered the most reliable and allows people to rapidly evaluate the openness and honesty of managers, thus allowing them to build trust.”

The report distils the latest thinking on trust and the central role of effective leadership communication in creating and repairing trust. Key content covered in the report includes 21st century leadership myths, ‘Rich’ communication in a digital landscape, Repairing trust – common causes and Creating a trusting company.

Image L-R: Richard Bridge, commercial and creative director at Top Banana; and Nick Terry, MD

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Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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