28 April 2022

Breaking the cycle of distrust in the workplace

Edelman Trust Barometer 2022 found distrust has become society’s default emotion. So, what does this mean for the workplace?

6 out of 10 people distrust something until they see evidence it is trustworthy. That’s the major finding of the Edelman Trust Barometer 2022, and it certainly gives cause for worry. 

Possibly more worrying, 64% believe people are incapable of having constructive and civil debates about issues they disagree on.

The good news for business leaders is that business is seen as the most trusted of institutions – but we shouldn’t be complacent. It’s  important to keep a finger on the pulse of this societal feeling and do all we can to build trust in the workplace.

5 things we can learn from the Edelman Trust Barometer 2022.

  • People are more convinced than ever that they are being lied to by leaders.

Journalists and government figures may be seen as the worst offenders, but 63% of people still believe they are being deliberately misled through falsehoods and exaggeration by their business leaders.

  • 60% choose their workplace based on beliefs and values.

People are more passionate than ever about what they believe in. From the brands they choose to the companies they work for, people want to be true to their values in all aspects of their life.

  • 81% expect their CEOs to be the face of change.

People want to see convincing leadership from the top. Especially on societal issues such as

climate change, economic inequality, workforce reskilling and trustworthiness.

  • ‘Failure of leadership makes distrust the default’

Not adequately tackling issues of disinformation, division and societal problems most relevant to employees leads to an automatic distrust. The feeling is people have been wronged too much already.

  • Job loss is society’s biggest fear

85% of people are most worried about losing their job. This underlines the fundamental distrust so many have with their employer and highlights a big area business leaders need to address.

It’s time for business leaders to be the face of change. What should we be doing?

There has never been more demand for businesses to step up. Across every issue measured in the Edelman Trust Barometer, people want businesses to engage more in change. For example, on climate change, 52% say businesses are not doing enough, whereas only 9% say they are overstepping. The expectation of business to lead change has never been clearer, and it isn’t going away.

With long term-focus on leading change, rather than focusing on short-term gain, we can foster the trust that will make the difference and break the cycle of distrust. But fundamentally, trust is earned on a human level. That means CEOs should be visibly connecting and talking about societal issues. It is their duty to speak publicly about the controversial social and political issues that people care about, and in turn drive their company to do work that benefits society, and the people they employ.

For more guidance on how to build leadership, check out these handy posts:

You can also reach out and speak to one of our employee experts directly about ways of doing this within your place of work, just get in touch at hello@mccannsynergy.com

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