Trust is one of the most valuable assets of any organisation. In the B2B context trust and culture – the values, mission and habits of an organisation – are interdependent. When an organisation has a strong and positive culture and an authentic offer to the market, trust and brand advocacy are built over time. This enables long term bonds between employees, and between employees and customers, to develop. When a brand’s culture, which is brought to life on a daily basis, doesn’t meet the expectations of trust placed upon it, an organisation’s reputation can quickly deteriorate under this scrutiny.
We are living in swiftly evolving times where trust across the spectrum is being eroded. From the Banking Royal Commission and ongoing political instability to fears related to job security and low wage growth rates, it should come as no surprise that the prevailing mood for Australians is currently one of pessimism about the future.
The Edelman Trust Barometer has been charting major shifts in general perceptions of trust over the last 19 years on a global scale. With data drawn from 33,000 respondents in 27 markets, the Barometer is regarded as a reputable source of information to understand the shifting value and importance placed on trust. The currency of this report is only more potent given our current environment where trust has been found to be so low.
The significant finding in the most recent Barometer was that the general adult population across developed nations is largely pessimistic about the future. There is a general sentiment that their lives won’t improve five years from now. Whilst it was measured that only 1 in 5 people globally think that society is working for them, 75% of these people have faith in their employer. The pessimistic figure is more pronounced in Australia with only 1 in 3 people in the general population optimistic about what the future holds for them.
Key findings from Australia demonstrate an overall negative view, but with insights into where opportunities to build trust may be:
Australia – Key Findings:
“People have low confidence that societal institutions will help them navigate a turbulent world, so they are turning to a critical relationship: their employer.”
Richard Edelman, President and CEO
These key Australian findings suggest that this is the opportune moment for Australian businesses to take advantage of the desire and need for trust. Australian businesses and their leaders have the opportunity at this juncture to include trust as a strategic lever, built into their organisational framework and authentically delivered to their audiences.
This is not just about the delivery of products and services. Australian organisations now take the lead on many societal issues including diversity and inclusion, parity, gender equality, and are key voices and influencers on government policy. After all, who remembers the marriage equality debate, and the leading positions taken by organisations as diverse as the AFL and Qantas?
The findings from the Barometer demonstrate clearly that trust is conducive to many positive and beneficial employee behaviours including advocacy (80%), loyalty (71%), engagement (69%) and commitment (87%). In fact, these insights clearly show over half of the population has an expectation that their chosen employment will offer an inclusive culture (75%), which enables them to actively contribute to and progress in their career (79%). Furthermore, 65% of employees additionally expect to make a valuable contribution to society through their work.
Employees are actively placing authority in their employers to create positive cultures with a vision for the future that is beyond profit generation. Are CEOs able to lead the change a generally disillusioned public is waiting for?
But where do brands start on their trust journey? In the context of trust deficit, how does a brand locate it’s starting position in the context of a shifting market and benchmark itself against agile competitors?
The Barometer highlights the value in measuring trust over time, and measurement provides organisations and institutions a better understanding of the business, societal and political context in which they are operating.
Brand measurement – the tracking of audience perceptions, sentiments, motivations and purchasing behaviour over time – drives an overall view of brand health. And most critically, measurement benchmarks then tracks the levels of trust audiences place in the brand.
The value of these insights cannot be underestimated in driving positive, incremental adjustments in business and brand strategy to further take advantage of building trust and advocacy with audiences over time.
Earning trust is essential not just from external audiences but also from employees and future employees. Creating an employer brand the demonstrates, imbues and empowers trust is critical in attracting and retaining the best people in an organisation.
And that starts from the top-down. What value does an organisation bring to its people? Brands that develop a strong Employee Value Proposition (EVP) provide the reason for why people should want to work there. EVPs are built from the inside out and sustained by motivated and committed employees who understand an organisation’s vision, values and behaviours and the role they play in delivering to these.
An effective EVP is a two-way benefit stream of trust, the employer fulfilling its promise kept to the employee, and the employee positively contributing to the organisational vision. Over time, through authentic and reciprocal engagement, trust is a key tool for attracting and retaining the brilliant and the best.
The recent Edelman Trust Barometer clearly demonstrates the erosion of trust as a global phenomenon, a deficit that creates an opportunity for organisations to positively and authentically build their brands and take the societal lead. The opportune moment is now for organisations to have the conversation: are we ready to be the new leaders in Australia?
Edelman Trust Barometer
Brand tracking and measurement
Employee branding and Employer Value Proposition (EVP)