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Who Do You Trust?

Edelman Trust Barometer reveals a surprising result.

two hands shaking displays trust
March 12, 2019

Trust is the thread that runs across almost everything our lives touch on – from transactional activities such as purchasing a product online and scanning social posts to listening to a friend’s latest problem. Trust is everything, and without it, our lives would be much bumpier.

Fortunately, the Edelman Trust Barometer, an online survey with more than 33,000 respondents worldwide, has been measuring and documenting trust for more than 19 years. The results from Edelman’s annual survey reveal the shifts in public trust and serve as a benchmarking tool for a variety of institutions.

It should be no surprise then that trust in institutions such as government and the media trails overall trust in nongovernmental organizations and business. But who people trust most to do what is right might be unexpected.

The 2019 survey reveals that “my employer” now ranks as the most trusted institution among those polled. The data is remarkable with 80 percent of people in the U.S. and 75 percent across the globe identifying their employer as their most-trusted relationship.

Moreover, they trust their employer at levels significantly higher than they trust the other institutions measured, with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) weighing in at 57 percent, businesses at 56 percent, government at 48 percent and media at 47 percent.

The willingness to place trust in employers above both governments and media highlights the opportunity for a company to not only strengthen its employee relationships but to also extend this sentiment to the brands they manage.

The golden rule

So, how can a company earn the necessary trust to strengthen brand performance? Interestingly, the Edelman study reveals that 78 percent of respondents agree how a company treats its employees is one of the best indicators of its level of trustworthiness.

Tammi Burke, UL’s director of brand and marks, believes that if companies can communicate the ways they support employees through diversity, flexibility and benefits, they help develop the transparency that can translate to trust in the marketplace.

“At UL, we offer flexible work options and focus on inclusivity, corporate social responsibility and volunteerism,” Burke said. “All of that coupled with our commitment to our inspiring mission, ‘working for a safer world,’ is part of a collective package that motivates, engages and supports our employees to talk about the great and meaningful work we do.”

The bottom line

Engaged and supported employees will communicate and share their stories, making them a persuasive group of brand ambassadors. Companies that empower their employees to advocate for them and improve economic and social conditions in the local communities where they operate are rewarded with greater commitment (83 percent), advocacy (78 percent) and loyalty (74 percent.)

“If an employee is passionate about their company brand, why not leverage that energy?” Burke said.

Related | Stand apart from the crowd with UL Verification

Additionally, trust in companies appears critical to marketplace success, as 67 percent of people surveyed agree “a good reputation will get me to try a product, but unless I can come to trust the company behind it, I will soon stop buying it.”

Want trust?

UL helps brands earn trust in the marketplace through various services, such as Marketing Claim Verification.

“That’s about being honest and transparent, which is the foundation of trust,” Burke said. “As a buyer, I’d rather have a scientific, impartial third party validate a brand’s marketing claim, instead of just hoping I’m being told the truth.”

Whether having a marketing claim verified for testing, inspection and auditing services, working with UL helps brands enhance their credibility and build trust.

“Communicating the investment our clients have made to engage our expertise is a meaningful story they can share with consumers to help build brand trust,” Burke said.

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