The Edelman Trust Barometer. A Groundswell of Voices – A Tipping Point in Trust

January 26, 2016 Russ Fradin<br><img src="" alt="Russ Fradin" class="avatar" width='100' height='100' style='border-radius: 50%;'/>

The Edelman Trust Barometer was released at Davos last week. The study, now in its 5th year, is an online survey which had 32,000 respondents across 28 countries. It is packed with great data, accurate insights and thoughts on how we gain, evaluate and grow trust.

2 items emerged from this year’s Barometer that really caught my eye and bear further discussion. One slide about The Inversion of Influence and a section that covered CEOs and societal influence.

Firstly, there is a new phenomenon where the most influential segment of the population is at the same time the least trusting of business, government, media and NGOs. Richard Edelman, President & CEO of Edelman calls it a “yawning trust gap between elites and mass populations.” Social technologies have democratized the creation and dissemination of content. Gone are the days of top down content flows.

The survey revealed that most people don’t rely on educated “elites” for information. Instead, they seek out information from friends, family and fellow employees to make decisions about their lives. The challenge, and opportunity, for business today is how to reach these people, these mass influencers in new and effective ways that easily engage peers and coworkers. Today’s power and trust are found in these mass influencers; these everyday people who are the mobile-enabled; digital natives; millennials; makers.


When you allow your employees to become advocates for your company, business will see the development of a broader cadre of trusted spokespeople. I see that here at Dynamic Signal every day, as we use our own product and hear great use cases from customers. Personal experience like this plus the findings of the Edelman Trust Barometer, which for the first time has a separate section covering employee advocacy, shows the growing visibility of this topic, both for companies and employees themselves. 2016 will be a tipping point for employee advocacy and engagement, and I believe a majority of companies will kick-off EA programs by the end of this year.

Finally, I found it interesting respondents felt now more than ever it is business that must take the lead when it comes to solving societal problems; 80% of respondents agreed with this sentiment. Take this stat pulled from the Trust Barometer: “When a CEO is engaged in addressing societal issues, an employee’s motivation to perform escalates by 22 points. Similarly, an employee’s willingness to stay working for the company climbs by 22 points, and inclination to recommend the company as an employer grows by 25 points.” Business, more than ever is taking the lead in, and benefitting from, corporate responsibility. Some examples of companies engaging employees and customers while supporting societal change at the same time are 3M’s – United Way partnership 3mGives, and Deloitte’s Impact Day is only a small part of their Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility program.

Trust isn’t given; it’s earned… and it appears now more than ever that who talks about you or your organization s is just as important as what they say. How are you working to earn trust from your customers today? What tools are you giving to your ever-more influential employees to tell your story. I would love to hear more @RFradin.

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