An Edelman perspective on making meaningful employee
connections that deepen engagement, build trust
and accelerate business performance

APRIL 2015

Employee Engagement Insights from the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer
By Bob Bullen, Vice President, Employee Engagement

As Edelman’s 15th annual Trust Barometer indicates, trust has hit an unprecedented low. According to this global study
which tracks how people trust government, media, business and NGOs, the credibility of traditional spokespeople,
including CEOs and media, continues to decline year over year across nearly every sector and geography. In short:
People do not trust business, and it’s becoming infinitely more challenging and complex to rebuild credibility.
That said, with any great challenge comes opportunity, and now, more than ever before, companies need to look
internally to elevate and amplify those voices whom consumers and stakeholders want to hear from most: Employees.


Rather, it’s quite the opposite: The C-suite should

As this year’s Trust data reinforces, employees continue

embrace transparency, and leverage the power of

to remain highly credible spokespeople, and in-house

trusted employee voices to support their leadership

technical experts – think engineers, scientists and

platforms and messages.

developers who work for a company – have become
an increasingly vital group to help reinforce the overall
credibility of a company’s strategy. In fact, a
company’s technical experts are, on average, 21
percentage points more credible than the CEO – a trend
that cuts across nearly every industry.
But that’s just the start. Regular employees continue to
remain among the most credible influencers when
speaking on key topics that drive trust, such as how a
company treats both its customers and employees and
how ethically it runs its business.
Most notably, when it comes to engaging with
stakeholders about the ways a company places
customers ahead of profits and other attributes, the
credibility of regular employees overshadows a
company’s CEO by 26 percentage points and activist
consumers by 14 points.
This doesn’t mean that companies should start sidelining
their CEOs in favor of employee ambassadors.

© 2015 Edelman

1) How can we more meaningfully engage employees
regularly on the state of the business so they’re more
equipped to speak credibly about it – and how can we
support leaders to help employees make the link between

And who better to talk about the process behind an
innovation story than those employees who’ve
developed it (technical experts), those employees
who support it (regular employees), and those who
interact with customers on a daily basis (front-line
employees)? Consider the following:

their efforts and a company’s strategy?



One of the most
trusted overall sources
of information about a
company and can
credibly articulate the
development process
of new innovations

Elevate to underscore
the credibility behind
the innovation
strategy, both
internally and


Uniquely positioned to
understand the role
their own company is
playing in the broader
picture of innovation

Tap as internal
advocates to tell the
“how” and “why”
behind an innovation


First line of defense
with customers and
can help advocate a
company’s innovation
story directly to
customers while
serving as a feedback

Provide training and
support to serve as a
critical feedback loop
and customer

2) How might we support and elevate in-house technical
experts to help position our company’s overall strategic
story – and do so in relatable terms?
3) What ways can we empower employees to serve as
company advocates – especially on topics where they’re
highly credible, such as discussing our company’s ethical,
customer-focused business practices and leadership?

This year’s Trust data also uncovered an interesting
perspective around how people feel about the pace of
innovation. If you’ve ever felt that the latest operating
system update on your mobile device is simply a means to
encourage you to upgrade your device altogether, it may
come as no surprise that more than half feel innovation is
moving too fast – and that it’s purely bottom line-driven.
The key to reinforcing a trusted innovation story is
repositioning the narrative around the “how” and “why”
behind an innovation instead of the “what.” In other words,
by explaining the customer-centric process behind

By understanding the opportunities these three unique

developing a new innovation and underscoring how it will

employee groups offer in reinforcing the credibility of a

improve people’s lives, consumers are more likely to feel the

company’s innovation story, companies can bolster their

innovation is rooted in a more meaningful purpose, and,

overall credibility – from the bottom all the way to the top.

ultimately, will buy into it.

Edelman Employee Engagement helps organizations accelerate business performance, delivered by highly engaged and
trusted employees. We do this by making meaningful, trust-building connections — connecting employees with the
company, with each other and with the outside world. Our global network of employee engagement specialists develop
engagement strategy; deploy the tools and processes to deliver it; create the multimedia channels and content that
support it; and design the insight mechanisms to measure it. For more information, visit us at, follow us on
Twitter at @EdelmanEE or email us at

© 2015 Edelman. For more information, contact us at
© 2015 Edelman. For more information, contact us at

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