In their annual Trust Barometer survey, Edelman monitors the levels of trust both within an organisation, and within and between markets. The 2013 report makes fascinating reading for any interested in innovation, employee engagement – and ensuring their business is trusted!
Attributes to Building Trust
At the heart of their survey are 16 Attributes to Building Trust, which this year they grouped into five trust performance clusters, ranked in order of importance.
Engagement: Top Of The List
What makes this fascinating reading is the constant presence of engagement and innovation as driving factors in building trust. As Edelman say, “In order to build trust, business must meet expectations on engagement and integrity.”
A Skeptical Age
The 2013 findings point to a loss of trust in the traditional leader, and the need for businesses to realise the importance of engaging with all its stakeholders to compensate for this. As Richard Edelman says in the introduction to the survey:
“We are in an era of skepticism… The traditional pyramid of authority, with elites driving communications top down to mass audiences, is now joined by an inverted pyramid of community – employees, action consumers and social activists involved in real-time, horizontal, constant peer-to-peer dialogue resulting in a new diamond of influence.”
The Diamond Of Influence
This diamond of influence not only includes employees as trusted spokespersons, but also consumers, who are twice as trusted on new media sites than company CEOs.
“Peers such as the employee or activist consumer … can speak most credibly to more societal issues, such as employee programs and benefits, crisis situations, customer satisfaction, the environment and community involvement.”
Trust Me, I’m an Employee
So, businesses need to find a way to engage with both employees and customers to build their trustworthiness. This process must surely start with the business trusting their own employees, since their employees are trusted by those outside the organisation. This also has a massive benefit for innovation; if the customer trusts the employee, the employee is likely to be the source of how the company can improve their services and products to the customer.
These findings simply support what we at TalkFreely have been creating for years; social innovation networks where employees, customers and other stakeholders can come together to discuss and explore better ways of doing business as well a better products and services.
Social innovation networks create an open yet managed platform that allows the natural expertise and experience of employees to flow out to interested and involved parties, without the inherent risks of open public social media.
As Edelman observes, CEOs and leaders can enlist people into innovation by “asking the right questions, observing reactions and behaviours, and listening to what people want, need, like, dislike, etc.” It’s very much what a TalkFreely solution provides – trust us on this, we’re employees too!
image credits: edelman.com
Stuart Sinclair is founder and director of TalkFreely, a cloud-based solution platform where employees and customers can share invaluable insights and ideas. Stuart guides businesses to become more competitive with software and solutions for ideas and innovation management.