Edelman Trust Barometer 2021

This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer Survey reveals a series of opportunities for business leaders based on changes in how their different audiences apportion their trust.

Trust, as we know, is vital for high performance internally as well as for gaining and maintaining business relationships with external organisations.

The results business leaders need to see fall into two categories – internal and external audiences.


  • Their employer is the most instantly believable source of information
  • 56% worry about being replaced by AI & robots

  • Reasons for choosing to work from home (if they have a choice) – fear of catching Covid-19 while commuting – 58%; better work-life balance – 33%

    • How personal priorities have shifted – prioritising family more – +56, Increasing media and information literacy – +46; Increasing science literacy – +43; Speaking out when a need for changes and reforms is spotted – +36


  • Employees’ expectations have changed – Keep staff & customers safe – +49; Job skills training – +44; Regular employee communications – +44; A diverse and representative workforce +39


  • 86% say CEOs must lead on Societal issues
  • The societal issues now more important to be addressed (which UK leaders can influence): Poverty – +53; Improving Education – +53; Addressing Climate Change – +51; Closing the economic and social divide – +48
  • CEOs should take the lead on societal issues rather than waiting on Government to address them – 66% and be accountable to public as well as the Board & Owners – 65%
  • Action areas where a business can gain most trust – Information quality – +5.8%; sustainable practices – +5.7%; Covid-19 security and response; +4.8%; Long-term thinking over short-term profit – +4.6%

The Opportunities

These are the resulting opportunities for business leaders if they act to improve and gain from higher trust:


Using regular two-way internal communication to discover, monitor and address staff fears and expectations – to improve staff buy-in, motivation, productivity and lower churn as well as external reputation, which will help to attract top talent.

Imagine the benefits of being in the Best Places To Work’ list. Including winning new business – in its 2020 Trust Survey UK Edition Edelman found 90% of the public wanted to understand how organizations are supporting employees, customers and suppliers, with 71% saying if they think a brand is putting profit over people, they’ll lose trust in that brand forever and more than a third had started using a new brand because of the innovative or compassionate way the brand had behaved since the pandemic began.

Meet staff expectations to improve motivation, productivity and lower churn through the following actions.

  1. Supporting those who want to work from home more when office working return; offering flexitime to allow better work-life balance
  2. Flagging media, information and science literacy training opportunities as well as job-related training
  3. Monitoring workforce diversity and acting on it where necessary
  4. Acting promptly and keep staff updated on any changes to Covid security measures to address any new threats, such as new variants of the virus.


Have your leader talk publicly about what your organisation is doing to meet the expectations of key external stakeholders – particularly on the issues identified as of increased priority to the public:

  1. Addressing Climate Change through more sustainable work practices
  2. Closing the economic and social divide – by monitoring and taking action to reduce the gap between average staff salary and that of organisation leaders
  3. Publishing results and performance against targets on social issues of public concern (see above)
  4. How your strategy puts long-term stability and performance over short-term gain and 5. Covid-19 security and response.

Taking action to seize these trust-based opportunities will help you recover faster from the Covid recession than rivals and build stronger relationships, both internally and externally.

Want help in communicating with your internal and external stakeholders? Get in touch to arrange a Zoom call to discuss your goals and how I could help you.