The Trust Debate: how companies can harness a culture of trust to maximise employee engagement

by Lisa Jones |

At a time when Trust in government, media and institutions is falling fast, it’s fascinating to see that bucking the trend is a rise in the number of people feeling that they trust their Employer to do what’s right.

That’s the findings from the latest Edelman Trust barometer, an annual global study featuring over 30,000 respondents which revealed that 75% of people trust their employer significantly more that NGOs (57%), business (56%) and the media (47%) respectively.

Creating an organisation where high levels of trust exists is an important cultural characteristic to drive high people engagement.  With hundreds of studies proving engaged teams perform better, this latest research suggests there is a golden opportunity for Employers to improve their organisational effectiveness by creating a Trust Culture.

We’ve explored the issue of Trust in our latest spottypod podcast, where we invited six senior communications professionals to take part in the Trust Debate, which was Chaired by Emma Leech, President of the CIPR and Director of Marketing and Advancement at Loughborough University.

The 45 minute debate is available on the spottypod podcast, but we’ve pulled out some striking soundbites from our panellists that provide great food for thought as we grasp how to maximise engagement in our own organisations and with the clients we consult.

The Panel opened by discussing how organisations can build trust.  There was common census that a culture of trust can emerge if there is a genuine commitment from top down.

‘Leaders have to invest time to build trust.  Leaders need bravery to ask the difficult questions and in response they help to build a two-way culture of respect’ – Jayne Licari, BNP Paribas Personal Finance.

‘There needs to be genuine dialogue with two way communication, not just a broadcast culture and not a blatant internal PR job’Dave Hodgetts, The National Lottery Community Fund.

The panel reflected on the challenge of switching a sceptical C-Suite on to the power that a culture of trust can breed.  Steve Frost, CEO of Work Buzz advises, “It takes data to switch a corporate leader.  They work in a data led environment.  If they don’t intrinsically get the power of communications to drive employee engagement and change, paint the picture with data and speak their language.

In discussion the panel remarked on the often-unrecognised impact line managers have on driving trust in the organisation.  Large businesses often work in tribes, but organisations can often design commnications on a global cascade model, without recognising the message may need to be adapted to reflect the context that the individual business ‘tribe’ operates in.  There should always be one version of the truth, but the way the message is delivered may need to be adapted to suit the differing needs of different business units.

Trust us, our podcast debate featured a host of other engaging insights, so many thanks to our panellists who participated including Jayne Licari (BNP Paribas Personal Finance), Hayley Whelan (Bristan), Jo Ebdon-Muir (Independent Consultant), Steve Frost (Work Buzz) and Emma Leech for Chairing the Panel.

The full podcast is available on the spottypod.