EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

2016 Executive Summary

Table of Contents
The Edelman TRUST BAROMETER 2016 ....................................................................................2
The trusted employee advocate… or detractor.........................................................................3
Beyond the grand illusion ..........................................................................................................3
Illusion in the workplace ............................................................................................................4
Consumers care about your employees ....................................................................................5
Consumers and employees – two sides of the same coin .........................................................6
The financial services paradox ...................................................................................................6
Harnessing employee trust ........................................................................................................7
A seven-step plan .......................................................................................................................8
For more information ................................................................................................................9

The Edelman TRUST BAROMETER 2016
Online Survey in 28 Countries
16 Years of data
33,000+ respondents total
All fieldwork was conducted between 13 October and 16 November 2015

General online population
Five years in 25 markets
1,150 respondents per country
Ages 18+

64% employed

Informed public
90% employed
Eight years in 20+ markets
500 respondents in US and China; 200 in all other countries
Represents 15% of total population
Must meet four criteria:

Ages 25-64

College educated

In top 25% of household income per age group in each country

Report significant media consumption and engagement in business news and public policy

Mass population
All population not including informed public

59% employed

Edelman TRUST BAROMETER 2016 Employee Engagement Executive Summary

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The trusted employee advocate… or detractor
The Edelman TRUST BAROMETER 2016 is a wake-up call for every business leader who fails
to consider the importance of trust. There is a link between the behaviours of leaders and
the willingness of employees to advocate for their company. And the employee is the most
trusted spokesperson on how businesses perform, operate, manage crises and treat their
people.
The implication is clear. Employees who trust their leaders will be more likely to say good
things about their employer. And consumers will believe them.
By the same token, employees who don’t trust their leaders will be less likely to say good
things about their employer. And they too will be believed by consumers.
Your employees are credible sources of information about your company. For better or
worse.

Beyond the grand illusion
The broader TRUST BAROMETER findings are deeply disturbing. They point to a yawning
trust gap emerging between elite and mass populations. The global survey asks respondents
how much they trust the four institutions of government, business, nongovernmental
organisations and media to do what’s right.
The survey shows that trust is rising in the elite or ‘informed public’ group – those with at
least a college education, who are very engaged by the media, and have an income in the
top 25 percent.
However, in the ‘mass population’ (the remaining 85 percent of our sample), trust levels
have barely budged since the great recession.
Edelman posits that there is a ‘grand illusion’ at play – a lingering notion that elites will lead
and the masses will follow. The historic model of influence was predicated on the belief that
elites have access to superior information, their interests are interconnected with those of
the broader public, and that becoming ‘an elite’ was open to all those who work hard.
But rising income inequality, high profile revelations of greed and misbehaviour, and the
democratisation of media have flipped the classic pyramid of influence.
The trust of the mass population can no longer be taken for granted, and any continuation
of the ‘grand illusion’ is dangerous for leaders in today’s world.

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Illusion in the workplace
A similar illusion is at play in the workplace. Many leaders still believe that they speak and
their employees follow. That the hierarchical, non-democratic structures of the organisation
result in obedient employees who toe the party line and automatically extol the virtues of
their employer.
The truth could not be more different.
What the TRUST BAROMETER data tells us is that leaders have lost control over the
provision of information about their organisation. There is now a disconnect between
authority and influence. The employee is the most trusted spokesperson for your business.
And as long as employees don’t trust their employers, employers cannot trust what their
employees say.
As with the broader public, there is a disconnect between executives and their employees.
Those who trust ‘the system’ to deliver and those who are more sceptical. In fact, the
Edelman TRUST BAROMETER 2016 shows that one-in-three employees doesn’t trust his or
her own company.

There is a trust disconnect between executives and employees. 64 percent of executives trust
the company they work for compared with only 48 percent of non -management employees.

This has profound implications for workforce relations and the ways in which senior leaders
present themselves to employees. They should display highly ethical behaviours. Take
responsible actions to address crises when they occur. And behave in a way that is
transparent and open. Interestingly, like the broader public, employees want their most
senior leader, the CEO, to have something worthwhile to say about societal issues.
Like those outside the company, employees believe that organisations and the people who
lead them should be motivated by more than just profit. And if they are (and they visibly do

Edelman TRUST BAROMETER 2016 Employee Engagement Executive Summary

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something about it), then they are more likely to be trusted. And employees are more likely
to advocate for them.

Consumers care about your employees
The EDELMAN TRUST BAROMETER 2016 shows that the broader public feels there are
several areas where business is underperforming against their expectations.
Consumers (who, of course, may well be employees themselves) feel that a trustworthy
company is one that treats its people well. And who do consumers trust as the most
credible source to determine if this is the case? The employees of that company.
Similarly, consumers feel that a trustworthy company is one that listens to their customers.
As the main customer touch point in most organisations, employees have a pivotal role in
making customers feel they have a voice. And who do they trust as the most credible source
to determine whether their voice is heard? The employees of that company.

There is a significant gap between what consumers expect and how companies are
performing. Employees have a pivotal role in influencing many of these areas.

Ethical business practices are another area that consumers feel is important and leads to
them being more likely to trust a company. Again, who do they trust as the most credible
source of information about a company’s business practices? The employees.
While this sounds obvious, it’s surprising how many companies have not realised this
powerful, trust-building link. Treat your people well. Support them to talk about the kind of
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employer you are, how you value your customers and the kind of business you are.
Consumers will trust you. And, as the TRUST BAROMETER also shows, when consumers trust
you they are more likely to buy from you and recommend you to others.

Consumers and employees – two sides of the same coin
Could it be that the link between consumers and employees is more profound that just the
service provider/purchaser relationship? At Edelman we believe so. We posit that
employees and consumers feel the same way about business and, in many cases, the
individual companies and brands that they work for and interact with.
We believe employees and consumers are closely linked by the attributes of companies and
business leaders that inspire trust. Treating employees well. Ethical business practices. And
meaningful involvement in societal issues.
The Edelman TRUST BAROMETER 2016 suggests that this link extends to the way people
communicate and the communications content they create. That there is a significant
opportunity to harness the trusted advocacy status of employees who are ‘people like me’
through peer-to-peer and social communications.

The financial services paradox
Financial services continues to be the least trusted of industries at 52 percent. Yet 80
percent of TRUST BAROMETER 2016 respondents who said they work for a financial services
company say they trust their employer – the highest of any industry.
How to explain this significant difference? We believe it reflects the great strides that many
financial services companies have taken to rebuild trust with their own employees. Clearly,
they haven’t yet had the same success with the general public.
There is therefore a significant opportunity for financial services companies to harness the
trust of their own employees, and the trust that others have in employees, to tell their story
to the wider world and build new levels of trust.

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Harnessing employee trust
So what should companies do to take advantage of the findings of the Edelman TRUST
BAROMETER 2016? First, let’s restate the issue at hand.
Consumers trust employees. Yet one out of every three employees doesn’t trust his or her
own company. If they don’t trust their company, they won’t advocate for it – and
consumers won’t hear them saying good things.

Employees are credible spokespeople on issues that build trust among consumers.

Employee trust and advocacy is driven by the same things that drive consumer trust.
Treating employees well, ethical business practices and a business and CEO that have
meaningful engagement in societal issues.
And finally, consumers trust peer voices when they communicate on social networking sites,
content sharing sites and online-only information sources.

Consumers trust social networking, and online content created peers.

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A seven-step plan
So here’s Edelman’s seven-step plan for building employee trust and harnessing it to turn
your people into your strongest advocates.
1. Start by thinking about your employees and your customers in the same way. Don’t
accept that the quality of the ways you engage your own people should be any less than
the ways you engage your customers and the wider world.
2. Support your leaders to be better at engaging employees to build trust. In particular,
and especially for your CEO, help your leaders describe to employees the ways in which
the company is a positive force for good in society.
3. Develop an easy to remember and repeat story that has this positive force for good at its
heart. Don’t settle only for describing your strategy to employees. Show them how this
strategy delivers something truly worthwhile to the world, beyond corporate profit.
4. Bring this story to life with real proof points that are evidence of your good work. Make
sure these stories recognise your employee heroes – those whose actions and
behaviours are evidence of the value you bring to the world.
5. Help your employees to share your story and proof points with each other and the wider
world. Give them shareable content and a simple platform that lets them seed it onto
their own social networks where they can advocate you with pride.
6. Track how you’re performing on an ongoing basis. Listen continuously to your
employees. You wouldn’t gauge your customer engagement efforts on a wing and a
prayer, so adopt the same rigour and discipline when it comes to your employees.
7. And, finally, make sure your communications and engagement team has the required
capability, resource and structure to make all this happen. Recognise that this may be a
quite different type of team than you may have needed only a few years ago.

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For more information
If you would like to know more about the employee engagement aspects of the Edelman
TRUST BAROMETER 2016 or the ways in which EdelmanENGAGE may help you improve
engagement with your employees, please contact:

Nick Howard
Nick has 20 years’ experience advising business leaders in Europe, North
America and UAE. Before joining Edelman he was Retail Communications
Director for Lloyds Banking Group, where he led the successful
communication of Europe’s biggest financial services integration – Lloyds
TSB and HBOS. Before that he led Mercer HR Consulting’s European
workforce change and engagement business, with a particular focus on
mergers and acquisitions.
nick.howard@edelman.com
+44(0)20 3047 2395 or +44(0)7790 552 216

Dr Andy Brown
Andy has worked in organisational research, people strategy
and leadership consulting for almost 25 years. He has lived and worked in
both the US and Europe and his client work has been mainly for FTSE 100
and Fortune 500 global organisations, focused on improving business
performance through improved leadership effectiveness, employee
engagement and communication.
andy.brown@engagegroup.com
+44(0)20 3047 4127 or +44(0)7776 143 854

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