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What Employers Can Learn from the Edelman Trust Barometer 2019 Global Report

In a world full of unreliable news, spammers, hackers, and con artists, it can be nearly impossible to know what to believe. That’s why the Edelman Trust Barometer 2019 can be so important.

Learn the best internal communication practices to build trust throughout your entire organization.

There is no interpersonal communication or interpersonal relationship on the planet that can thrive without a mutual sense of trust. Whether it’s at home or in the workplace, trust is the essential foundation needed for any healthy partnership.

What Is the Edelman Trust Barometer?

The Edelman Trust Barometer is a score that measures the average percent of trust in institutions like NGOs, business, government, and media. It is essentially a global measurement of trust around the world.

According to the Edelman Trust 2019 report:

“From an institutional standpoint, trust is a forward-looking metric. Unlike reputation, which is based on an organization’s historical behavior, trust is a predictor of whether stakeholders will find you credible in the future, will embrace new innovations you introduce and will enthusiastically support or defend you.

For these reasons, trust is a valuable asset for all institutions, and ongoing trust-building activities should be one of the most important strategic priorities for every organization.”

So what were the results of the latest report on global trust in our institutions, and what takeaways can business leaders apply to their organizations?

Here are some highlights from the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report, and how business leaders can use these insights to improve employer/employee relations at their companies.

Edelman Trust 2019: People Are Looking to Business Leaders for Social Change

Not surprisingly, the divisive political climate in the US and a brewing global distrust in government and media has sparked “an urgent desire for change” among the public. The study revealed that the developed world is pessimistic about the future, indicating they did not think their economic prospects would improve within the next five years.

It’s clear from the study that the public’s faith in the system is shaky to say the least. In steps the Edelman Trust Survey.

Only 1 in 5 respondents said they believed the system is working for them.

This desire for social change combined with a general sense of distrust for the system, has led the public to pin their hopes on a new champion — their workplace.

That’s right.

A whopping 76% of respondents surveyed reported that CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for the government to do it.

Respondents also indicated that they believed CEOs could create positive change in social justice areas such as:

  • Equal pay
  • Prejudice and discrimination
  • Training for the jobs of tomorrow
  • The environment
  • Personal data
  • Fake news

More specifically, 71% of employees surveyed believe that it’s critically important for their company’s CEO to respond to pressing social issues.

Pro tip: Think outside your mission and lead an organization with a purpose bigger than your brand to build trust with the community and your employees. 

Edelman Report 2019: The Employer Is Regarded as a Beacon of Trust in Today’s Uncertain Times

The Edelman Trust Report 2019 revealed that survey respondents ranked their own employers as most trustworthy compared to other established institutions such as NGOs, government, and media.

What’s more, 58% of all employees surveyed said they look to their employer to be a trustworthy source of information about social issues and other important topics on which there is not general agreement on the trust barometer. Transparent communication is a key strategy to earn trust.

Employee Expectations of Their Employer Are Higher Than Ever

The report also revealed that employee expectations of an employer are high. According to the study, respondents reported that they have a strong expectations in the following areas:

  • Shared action and social purpose
  • Personal empowerment
  • Opportunities for advancement

Employer/Employee Trust Is More Important Than Ever

With public trust in institutions at a low, and shifting expectations of the employer’s role in facilitating social change, there is a massive opportunity for businesses to step in and lead the charge in creating positive change.

According to the Edelman Trust Report, here are six key ways that employers can leverage the current trust index climate to become trustworthy leaders in the eyes of the public.

1) Lead Change

The public is looking for inspirational leaders who address societal concerns about the future and are willing to invest in and train the next generation of workers. 67% of employees expect their employer, and their jobs, to have a greater purpose and impact in the world. 

2) Empower Employees

It’s more important than ever for employers to give their employees a voice within the organization. Business leaders should also focus on creating opportunities for shared action and empowering their teams with the information they need to be autonomous and move the business forward. 74% of workers expect to be included and have a voice in strategic planning.

3) Focus Efforts Locally

Business leaders have a huge opportunity to gain status in their communities by solving problems that affect people directly in their backyard. By improving social conditions within the very communities they operate in, business leaders can start to build trust with local residents.

4) Encourage CEO Leadership

Since the public is increasingly turning to the private sector as a source of leadership, CEOs are being called upon to fill the void left wide open by the ineptitude of many elected officials. CEOs can capture public trust by living their company values, engaging directly with the public, and having a visible presence outside the organization.

Gone are the days when a CEO could covertly operate from behind closed doors. In today’s privacy-allergic culture, leaders are expected to be front and center for all to see.

5) Inspire Confidence

Job insecurity is high right now. More than half of the population is worried about losing their positions due to:

  • Lack of training
  • Automation
  • International trade wars

Business leaders build trust by assuaging their fears and offering opportunities for training and personal growth.

6) Communicate Clearly and Authentically

With trust in outside entities—like government and media—at a dramatic low, people are looking towards their employers as sources of reliable communication. Support that through authentic, transparent communication.

The five topics leaders should discuss with employees to build trust include:

  • Societal impact: Communicate your organization’s contributions to the community.
  • Values: Tell employees what your company believes in.
  • The future: Share your vision for your company.
  • Purpose: Define your mission.
  • Operations: Be transparent about business decisions and strategies.

Pro tip: To be a strong leader in today’s world, build a partnership with employees built on trust and inclusion through transparent communication.

It’s Time for Businesses to Step Up and Take a Stand

If there’s one key take away we can glean from the Edelman Trust Barometer 2019, it’s that the public is starving for new leadership. Right now, businesses and employers are viewed as the most trustworthy sources of change, support, and inspiration.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What does your brand believe in? 
  • What does it stand for? 
  • What is it against? 

The days of neutral, flat, corporate-speak branding are over. Your brand is your company’s identity. It’s time to start living what you believe in, and the public will follow you.

Ready to start building a stronger relationship with your team? Download our Internal Communication Strategy white paper to foster trust and unity in your organization.