This is the alarming finding of the 2016 Edelman TRUST BAROMETER Special Report on Employee Advocacy. For the first time in the global study’s 16-year history, Edelman has examined the state of trust between employers and employees.
For many years, the Edelman Trust Barometer has shown that ‘regular employees’ are more trusted than CEOs as a source of information about a business. But this potential for brand advocacy is threatened by a significant Employee Trust Divide – revealing a huge challenge for business.
“This is a wake-up call for any business leader who underestimates the importance of building trust with employees,” said Nick Howard, executive director of Edelman’s employee engagement business in Europe. “Edelman’s special report on Employee Advocacy shows that non-trusting employees are far less likely to say good things about their employer. And worryingly, the bad things they say will be believed by consumers.”
Howard continued: “Employees are among the most trusted of all company spokespeople – even more than the CEO. The Employee Trust Divide shows there’s a missed opportunity for employers to help their employees be powerful, trusted advocates with consumers.”
“The findings are very clear,” said Christopher Hannegan, executive vice president and lead of Edelman’s employee engagement business in the United States. “Consumers trust companies that treat their employees well. Companies that have ethical business practices. Are transparent and open. And respond well to problems and crises. Equally clear is that these are the topics that employees are most trusted to talk about.”
And what’s a major factor influencing whether employees will say good things about their company? Trust in the CEO. “CEOs should be looking at these findings and asking themselves, ‘do my employees trust me?’” said Hannegan.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, consumers and employees feel the same way about CEOs’ trust-building attributes.
“More than two thirds of people feel that CEOs are too focused on short-term financial results,” said Howard. “And employees are more likely to advocate for their employer when CEOs have something to say about, and meaningful involvement in, societal issues. In fact, eight out of 10 people say they want this from CEOs.”
It’s not all doom and gloom. As Hannegan said, “There’s a big upside to all this. If you build trust with your employees, they’ll say good things about you. And when they do, consumers will believe them. Don’t let the opportunity to close your Employee Trust Divide slip by.”
Edelman is a leading global communications marketing firm that partners with many of the world’s largest and emerging businesses and organizations, helping them evolve, promote and protect their brands and reputations. Edelman was named one of Advertising Age’s “Agency to Watch” in 2014; one of Forbes’ “14 Most Influential Agencies of 2014”; and The Holmes Report’s “2013 Global Agency of the Year.” Edelman was awarded the Grand Prix Cannes Lion for PR in 2014 and was among Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” for the third time in 2014. Edelman owns specialty firms Edelman Intelligence (research) and United Entertainment Group (entertainment, sports, experiential), a joint venture with United Talent Agency. Visit edelman.com for more information.