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by Roseann Freitas Roseann Freitas | Apr 8, 2021 9:39:06 AM

Trust is in shorter supply right now. According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, a pandemic and its resulting economic instability produced an overall increase in mistrust among U.S. citizens. Societal institutions and most every level of leadership have received notable allotments of skepticism recently.

It’s currently tough to know who you can count on.

Local businesses lead the trust barometer.

So, for what little amounts of trust are being extended, where is it ending up? If you’re a business owner, you may like what you’re about to read. Of the four institutions Edelman focuses on for their barometer – including governments, NGOs, and the media – business is the only institution that registers as “trusted.”

The same rings true in the barometer’s measurement of employee trust. Business-based employers – local businesses, in particular – were viewed as more trustworthy than their counterparts in operating government, NGOs, and media.

Those feelings on trust were impacted by a shift in employee expectations. Because of the pandemic, more workers prioritized safety protocols, communication, job skills and training programs, and workforce diversity in 2020.

Heightened Calls for better “information hygiene.”

Shifting priorities were influenced by information, and the channels supplying it weren’t exactly viewed with much confidence. This most recent edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer revealed an all-time low for trust in information sources. Search engines, traditional media, owned media, and social media were each deemed untrustworthy sources of general news.

All that mistrust may be a symptom of poor “information hygiene.” Edelman’s hygiene model classifies individuals’ information consumption as either “good,” “moderate,” or “poor” based on the following four criteria:

  • Regularly engaging with the news.
  • Listening to different viewpoints and avoiding echo chambers.
  • Verifying information and opting not to believe an article just because it supports your point of view.
  • Avoiding the spread of misinformation.

To rate as good, people need to meet at least three-fourths of that outlined criteria. Right now, most people are not meeting those standards, which can impact progress, like a return to the workplace.

The silver lining.

Business leaders have an opportunity to buoy communities lost in a sea of mistrust. By prioritizing facts, addressing fears, incorporating empathy, and producing reliable content shared internally and externally, business owners can help counter trust lost during the pandemic. Edelman calls on CEOs to make up ground by addressing these areas of their operation:

  • Pandemic impact
  • Job automation
  • Societal issues
  • Local community issues

To increase trust, businesses should also protect the quality of information they distribute, embrace sustainable practices, implement health and safety protocols, drive economic prosperity, and think long-term. This is an opportunity for leadership to act.

For more information about standards of trust, contact your Better Business Bureau.

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