Research Digested: 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust at Work

A snapshot of useful research for L&D and workplace professionals

Why read this report
The strapline to this year’s Edelman report on Trust in the Workplace is The Workplace Reconsidered. It claims employees across all generations want a reset, with 72% saying employers need to rethink what work means to employees. Trust in employers is high but employees also have higher expectations of employers and their role in society.

About this research
Edelman had 6,977 people from seven countries (Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, UK and US) participating in its survey, which is in its third year. The research was carried out July/August 2023.

Standout stats

Business is more trusted than all the other main institutions (NGOs, government and the media), by a long shot. This is not a new trend – it’s been the case since the 2019 report, with employers scoring more highly on competence and ethics. But, due to economic and geopolitical uncertainty, 78% of employees are worried about losing their jobs. Looming recession is given as the top reason, followed by automation, international trade conflicts and lack of training and skills being in fourth place.

Despite this, 67% of workers are re-evaluating how they spend their time. And Gen Z is leading the way – 93% of employees say coworkers in their 20s have been influenced how they feel about work life boundaries, openness to new tech, desire for career success and fair work for pay. And more than 60% are more willing to pressurise their employers to change things they do not like. Again, this is a trend that was highlighted in a previous Edelman trust survey – the June 2022 survey was called Gen Z Redefines Work.

So what do jobseekers want from work?

  • 61% expect the CEO to speak publicly about controversial issues that they (the worker) care about
  • 83% are interested in career advancement (competitive wages, work experience, training and career opportunities)
  • 80% in personal empowerment (such as regular communication and employee diversity)
  • 71% are concerned about societal impact

Deskless workers are the least trusting of their employer. They feel disconnected from corporate life and want their CEO to understand their daily work. It’s interesting to compare trust levels when deskless workers think executive management trusts them, compared to when they don’t. When they think trust exec managers trust them, their trust in them is higher: my manager scoring 89, CEO and head of HR both scoring 78. When they think trust isn’t there, their trust also falls: trust in my manager scoring 40, CEO 24 and head of HR 26.

Another interesting finding that stands out is that increasing numbers of employees are sharing and posting employer-related content, whether it’s sharing news coverage on social media about their employer (weekly or more) or posting their own content (weekly or more).

Final word:

Some of the trends identified in this report also featured in previous reports, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important. In fact, it demonstrates that change is building and that how employees feel about work, the workplace and their employer is changing. So employers, L&D and HR need to listen and act accordingly.

Report reading time: 15 minutes

Media: PDF