When global public relations firm Edelman released its annual 2023 Trust Barometer, the big news for our clients was that trust is now considered the “ultimate currency.” A majority of survey respondents reported that they consider their employer to be more trustworthy than the media, corporations, governments, advertisers and (not surprisingly) social media. Wow — consider that for a moment. What a responsibility and opportunity that presents!
But there’s also a warning embedded in this statistic. After all, if more than 60% of employees say they trust their employer to do the right thing and stand on the right side of the issues that matter, it means close to 40% don’t trust their employer.
So what does this mean for employers?
Take a stand — and stand by it. New burdens are being put on businesses to speak up and take a stand about everything from sustainability to diversity to geopolitics. What do you believe in, as a person and as an institution? How are you showing this in your everyday actions?
Recognize that you can’t do it all. Edelman advises business leaders to stick to issues related to their business and leadership values, such as the economy, worker diversity and sustainability. As a company, take the time to identify and share your ethos. What are your core values and operating principles? Let this be your guide, and stay true to your brand.
Prepared for the unexpected. Speaking out can sometimes garner negative attention, too, which is why we recommend that you have an internal and external crisis comms plan ready. We don’t want to sound like Chicken Little, but in the spirit of building trust — trust us, the day will come when you need a crisis comms plan, and you do not want to pull one together in the face of, well, a crisis.
Create a safe space for the exchange of ideas. The workplace has become a “bastion of stability” within society. The Edelman Report revealed that people feel safer talking about societal issues in the workplace than they do with neighbors or friends. Is your office providing this safe space for debate and exchange?
We all sometimes have those down days when we feel like our work doesn’t matter, or we’re not having the impact we want to have. But the Edelman Trust Barometer reminds us that what we do every day matters. The decisions you make and the words you choose can have repercussions far beyond your office door.
Maintaining “trust in my employer” is the foundation on which to build more trust across society and other institutions, from media to government. Be trustworthy at work, at home and in your community, and watch as your work pays dividends of the ultimate currency, trust.
by Emily Pappas