2019 Acumen Edelman Trust Barometer Research

Kiwi employers the most trusted to lead change

Acumen Republic launches the 2019 Acumen Edelman Trust Barometer results for New Zealand

The 2019 Acumen Edelman Trust Barometer shows “my employer” emerging as the most trusted institution. While New Zealanders’ overall trust in the major institutions has remained flat since last year’s study, “my employer” is significantly more trusted (74%) than government (50%), NGOs (48%), business (47%), and media (34%).

“This trust in employers is born out of a lack of trust in other institutions. Employees are looking for trusted sources of information in a time of change and disruption and there is an opportunity for employers to provide education and useful insights that help them navigate the new world,” says Adelle Keely, Chief Executive at Acumen Republic.

“There is a growing expectation for business leaders to step up. Three-quarters of employees want CEOs to take the lead on change instead of waiting for government to impose it. This has increased by 15 points since last year.”

Employees are also looking for purpose in their jobs – calling for shared action with their employers (61%). Companies that do are rewarded with greater commitment (85%), advocacy (81%) and loyalty (67%) from their employees.

“The old mantra used to be customer-first, but now it’s employee-first. Treatment of employees is seen as one of the most powerful indicators of trustworthiness (78%). These employees will then help to deliver for the customer,” says Keely.

Another key finding this year, is the division in society between the haves and have-nots. Globally, we are seeing the largest ever trust gap (16 points) between the informed public (65%) and mass population (49%). New Zealand is in line with these global results, with an 11 point gap showing tertiary-educated, higher-earning Kiwis are overall far more trusting of institutions such as the Government and the media than the general population. This gap extends to faith in the system. Far more informed members of the public believe the system is working for them (41%) than the general population (30%).

“Division is not only between the informed public and mass population but is also seen across gender. Women are less trusting than men, only trusting Government, while men have trust in both business and NGOs,” says Keely.

“Trust in business shows the biggest gender divide. This is likely the result of lack of female representation and reporting around pay equity and the #metoo movement.”

Keely says this year’s findings present an opportunity for a new employer-employee contract, with a greater focus on building trust inside and outside the organisation.

“Employers need to lead on change, address workers’ concerns, provide information and equip employees for the future. They should demonstrate their relevance and contribute to the communities where they operate. This is particularly important for those not headquartered in New Zealand.

“Finally, employees want to see leadership – they want the senior team to be visible and show a personal commitment to creating positive change, from equal pay to protecting the environment and ensuring employees are equipped with the skills for the digital workplace.

“All organisations should see this as an opportunity. The potential for building trust is within the remit of every employer and has never been greater.”

Our panel talks about what stood out in the 2019 Acumen Edelman Trust Barometer New Zealand results.