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Key Insights Communication Plays in Building Trust in Businesses

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At the February 19, 2019 Association for Corporate Growth NJ’s monthly breakfast meeting, BASF Corporation’s Vice President of Corporate Communications and Chief Communications Officer, Robin Rotenberg, shared key insights regarding the essential role communication plays in  building trust in businesses of all sizes today.

Good communication creates good relationships. 

In her remarks, Rotenberg pointed out that one of the most significant trends currently taking place has to do with how a lack of honest, open communication correlates with eroding levels of trust.  In making the case, Robin quoted Edelman, an American public relations and consulting firm known for their prestigious Trust Barometer Research which is published every year. The results of their 2019 study reveal that “trust has changed profoundly in the past year—people have shifted their trust to the relationships within their control, most notably their employers.”  

According to Edelman, there is an increasingly high level of skepticism and distrust in the public sector along with a corresponding search for rational discourse. But despite the evolving lack of faith in the systems that define our society and in the media, there is one relationship that remains strong. 

The connection between employees and their employer is growing more powerful. 

 Interestingly, the Edelman Trust Barometer 2019 data reveals that 58% of employees believe that their employer is a trustworthy source of information about contentious societal issues.  This is an overwhelming confirmation that more than half of all employees have faith in their employers. When asked, employees say they want, and expect, their CEO to be an inspiring leader, responding to industry challenges while addressing national crises, employee issues and politics. 

Edelman’s conclusion is that employees are ready and willing to trust their employers, but the trust must be earned through more than “business as usual.” 

How is trust earned by employers? 

Based on this data, it is clear that business leaders are in an excellent position for building a loyal, committed workforce. But to accomplish this they need to take responsibility for properly engaging employees. It is through transparent conversations, honest dialogue, and the sharing of important information that they will earn the confidence of their employees.  

As Robin concluded her presentation she reflected on the reality of Edelman’s report. They put forth the idea that employees’ trust in the world at large is shrinking, it is being replaced by growing trust in the employer. The significant lesson to glean from this is that in this situation, it is the immediacy of the close relationship between employer and employee that most effectively encourages and nurtures faith and confidence.