Chairs sit around a table inside a conference room. (Photographer: Martin Leissl/Bloomberg)

People Trust Their Boss 3x More Than the Government

(Bloomberg) -- Employers are emerging as a powerful source of trust as people turn to more local relationships and remain skeptical of institutions including the government and social-media platforms, a survey of global attitudes compiled by public-relations firm Edelman found.

Among the respondents, 75 percent said that they trust their employer, 27 points more than government and 28 points more than the media, the survey found. People increasingly look to their employer as a relationship because it’s closer and more controllable, Edelman said.

“People have low confidence that societal institutions will help them navigate a turbulent world, so they are turning to a critical relationship: their employer,” Chief Executive Officer Richard Edelman wrote in an essay summing up the main findings of the annual survey, which the company entitled “Trust at Work” this year.

Consumption and sharing of traditional media has also rebounded, marking a dramatic reversal from a year ago, because there is a growing desire for fact finding, the report found. Conversely, social-media trust hasn’t kept pace, leading to a gap between traditional and social media of 20 points globally and as high as 35 points in some developed markets, the survey found.

Widespread Pessimism

Edelman’s survey of trust, which the company defines as the fabric that holds together society, found that pessimism remained widespread. That feeling is most pronounced among the mass population, particularly in countries like the U.K., Canada, and France, which showed the greatest divide between a mass class and the informed public. Women also remain more skeptical of institutions than men, the survey found.

Last year’s survey, entitled “The Battle for Truth,” found a dramatic erosion in trust in the U.S., where the barometer recorded its steepest decline on record.

The rise of street protests like the Gilet Jaunes in France, the #MeToo movement and mass corporate disobedience at companies including Google and Amazon.com Inc. have revealed a tendency of people taking power into their own hands, rather than seeking change through the traditional electoral process, the survey said. Companies should focus on acknowledging their employees’ concern about their future, give workers a voice, build local communities and have the CEO directly address issues from immigration to diversity, the survey said.

The annual survey of about 33,000 respondents, which was conducted in October and November, asked citizens of the countries concerned to rank their levels of trust in key societal institutions that include business, government, media, and non-profit organizations.

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