For 22 years, The Edelman Trust Barometer has been an annual survey, designed to measure global trust and credibility in the Government, business, NGOs and the media. The key headline of this year’s survey? Businesses are currently the most trusted of any institution. So what do the results mean for internal communicators?

2022 Edelman Trust Barometer results

The results of the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer have been captured by surveying 36,000 people across 28 countries, culminating in what Edelman are calling ‘The Cycle of Distrust’.

For the fourth year in a row, business is once again the most trusted institution at 61%, ahead of NGOs with 59%, Government at 52% and media at only 50%. Much of this stems from the belief that the Government is too divisive, while the media is more interested in chasing clicks and purposefully saying things that are grossly exaggerated, causing polar views. After a turbulent couple of years following the pandemic, people are looking for genuine, authentic messages and clear leadership, but don’t actually feel that they can get quality information. People are therefore turning to their employers to fill the void and provide guidance and information on societal issues.

Richard Edelman, Edelman CEO talks through the 2022 Trust Barometer results

Societal issues

Job loss (85%), climate change (75%) and hackers and cyber attacks (71%) are 3 of the top 5 concerns from people – all of which, have increased in concern over the years. This is supported by the fact that only 51% of respondents believe they and their families will be better off in 5 years time, and 9 countries have currently reached an all-time low in this area. There is a big opportunity here for employers to help build societal trust again.

My CEO to be the face of change

With societal concerns on the rise, people are looking to their employers to be the voice of leadership across these areas. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Government and journalists are the least trusted leaders, compared to “my CEO” or co-workers, and 77% agreed that their employer is the most trusted out of any institution.

The need for genuine connection and purpose is increasing. 58% said they would buy or advocate for brands purely based on their beliefs and values. This increased to 60% who said they would choose a place to work based on their values and beliefs, and 64% said they would make investment decisions based on this also.

This was supported further in the results, with employees (60%) expecting their CEO to be the face of change. With an expectation that business will fill the leadership void left by the media and Government, people are looking to their employer to fight for positive change, raise awareness and drive policy. People want to see their employer leading from the front, demonstrating values and what they believe in.

What action can Internal Comms Pros take from the results?

1. Societal Leadership

CEO’s are expected to shape conversation and policy on the economy (76%), wage inequity (73%) and technology & automation (74%). It is now no longer enough for CEOs to speak out on these matters internally. They must be visible externally and setting the tone for what is right and what needs to be done.

2. Demonstrate progress & credible information

People want credible information and demonstrable progress. Leaders in business must focus on bringing people together on common ground issues, demonstrating long-term thinking and making clear progress on key areas of concern.

3. Internal and External Communications alignment

Perhaps more important now than ever, is the clear alignment between internal and external communications teams. With CEO’s having a clear role to play externally with Government, media and future employees, it is imperative that progress is demonstrated internally as much as externally.

What are your views on the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer? What do you believe is the impact for internal communicators and what should communicators be doing differently? Perhaps you’ve already started to implement some changes as a result. Share your thoughts and views in the comments section below.

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