Risky Business

⅓  of all Western Australian University tutors are kidnapped by their first year students and sold to the Mexican drug cartel to play in Mariachi bands!*

Okay so the previous statement is false; I made it up in the shower this morning.

However, IF it was a real fact and suddenly I (a tutor for a first year university course in Western Australia) found myself on the wrong side of the US-Mexican border with a guitar in my hand and some colleagues dancing at my feet, I would be extremely angry that the university never bothered to warn me.  At least then I could have memorized the lyrics to La Cucaracha.

From http://themavesite.com/wp/tag/signs

According to a 2008 study by Conchie and Burns, employers need to engage in open communication with their staff if they want to retain employee trust.  Basically, they need to tell the employees the risks of the job.  A lot of trust is lost when employes discover that their bosses  have been keeping the dangers of the job a secret (Conchie & Burns, 2008).  As any cheating boyfriend will acknowledge, once lost trust is incredibly difficult to gain back again (Concie & Burns, 2008).  So the zoo should warn its groundkeepers that carelessly weeding the lion cage might result in their hand being mauled by the lions, and hospitals should tell nursing students that they might get assaulted and abused by members of the general public.  Even if the messages are negative, frustrating and unpleasant, communication is still better than leaving the employees …


in long…


silence (Concie & Burns, 2008).

How can you trust a company if you have no idea what’s going on?










From http://wilderdom.com/Risk.html

The article got me thinking. Has there ever been a time when I lost trust in my employer do to a lack of risk communication?

Not really, but if I wake up in Central America, I’ll let you know.  My previous employers had the foresight to informed me that unless I want to be blind or dead, methanol is not a drinking alcohol,that before entering the -40 C freezer I needed to ‘snowsuit up’ and that paper cuts are a painful price of a paper filing system.  Perhaps it is because I was told these risks beforehand that I still have a large amount of trust in my former bosses.

What about you?  Have you ever lost trust in an employer?  Maybe you think open communication is not that important.  Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

*This statement is completely false and under no circumstances should be reported or remembered as actual fact.  It is not based on any reports, statistics, rumors or even heresy, only my overactive imagination.


Conchie, S. M., and C. Burns. 2008. Trust and risk communication in high-risk organizations: a test of principles from social risk research. Risk Analysis 28(1): 141-149.


4 comments so far

  1. osullivankate on

    I agree that Trust is an incredibly important aspect of the employer-employee relationship. It’s incredibly difficult to work under someone in whom you have no trust.

    But I think it also cuts another way as well – employee-employee trust. How many times have you been working in a team environment and struggled because one member of the team (superior or not) has not been able to be trusted to do their work or pull their own weight?

    I always think of this quote when talking about trust:
    “The glue that holds all relationships together — including the relationship between the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” –Brian Tracy

  2. shortfletch on

    That is an excellent point. The employer can provide all the safety training, procedures and equipment, but they can’t physically make their employes follow the regulations. I’m sure you’ve seen many a graduate student wearing shorts and thongs in a lab that requires long pants and close-toed-shoes. Employers need to be able to trust the employees to take some responsibility for themselves.

    So I talked about how the employers have a responsibility to communicate the risks of the job to employees, to gain trust. You have mentioned how employees need to gain the trust of their employers as well. Do you think with respect to risk communication employees or employers have the larger burden of making sure the work environment is safe or is it an even two-way street of communication?

    • osullivankate on

      I think it’s definitely a two way street. Employers need to be kept abreast of risks that arise in the workplace by employees, but employees need to be in the loop from their employers about any risks they should know about.

  3. noelynn on

    But as an employee, any risk about the position, or the company you are working for should be communicated openly. Unless you are a threat to the company or the position you hold in the company, then before you know it, you are demoted. So the issue of employee – employer trust should be an honest and open in nature.

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