Without Trust, Your Company Will Resist Rapid Innovation

TED KITTERMAN

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Edelman’s latest Trust Barometer shows growing resistance to innovation. Here’s how you can measure if your workforce is ready for change.

Don’t assume your audience is ready for something new, whether that audience is employees, consumers, or a mix of both.

Edelman’s 2024 Trust Barometer shows growing distrust around innovative ideas and new technologies, from vaccine advances to artificial intelligence. In an online survey of over 32,000 respondents, now in its 24th year, Edelman found people are twice as likely to say innovation is poorly managed versus well managed — 39% compared with 22%.

While the report found that business is the most trusted institution to make sure innovation is safe and accessible (compared to government, NGOs, and the media), no institution had more than 59% approval.

Resistance to innovation was shared by respondents across gender, age, and socioeconomic status. Trust was particularly lower in post-industrial countries like the U.S. and those in Europe.

That lack of trust has big implications for whether new products and tools will be adopted or rejected.

In the global survey, people who said innovation was managed poorly were ready to reject innovation like AI (43%) and gene-based medicine (41%). Only 26% rejected AI when they said innovation was well-managed.

And the impact will be seen in the bottom line.

Companies with the highest “Innovation By All” metric have 550% faster revenue growth compared with companies that have a low score, according to Great Place To Work® research.

Facing a trust crisis

These findings support recommendations from Great Place To Work on the biggest mistakes threatening employee trust amid the rise of AI technology at work.

Top of the list? Don’t assume that everyone already trusts you.

“Business’s trusted status in society is not a given, and without active management could go the same way as trust in government,” wrote Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman. “The trigger could be mismanagement of innovation, where past failures are still visible today.”

The innovation currently on center stage: AI.

“As you embark on GenAI, check how much confidence your employees’ have in their executives’ judgement,” says Marcus Erb, vice president of data and innovation at Great Place To Work.

Consider how confidence levels change across roles, departments, and personal identities.

“Weak confidence means more doubt, slower progress, and less enthusiasm shared with customers,” Erb warns.

Edelman’s data suggests that a good portion of your audience — whether customers or employees — don’t fully trust you. To find out your weaknesses, it will be crucial to survey and run employee listening sessions to uncover barriers to innovation.

A global trust crisis

Almost every country has more people who see innovation as mismanaged rather than well-managed.

In Singapore, 28% said innovation was mismanaged compared to 24% who believe the opposite. The number of respondents who say innovation is mismanaged is 11 points lower than the global average of 39%.

Respondents were more likely to say they trust their employer, with a global average of 79% saying they trust their company to be ethical and competent.

In Singapore, 76% of respondents said they trust their employer, a 2-point increase from the previous year.

Every employer starts out with a certain amount of trust in the bank — a level of trust built over time with employees.

“Every interaction with your people is a chance to build that trust — or break it,” says Sarah Lewis-Kulin, vice president, global recognition at Great Place To Work. The more trust you have in the bank, the faster you will be able to adapt to the AI transition.

“The key to the best companies’ financial outperformance has always been their ability to gain the confidence and trust of their people,” Lewis-Kulin says. As an example, employees at the Best Workplaces™ are 47% more confident that their managers are ethical and honest, compared to a typical U.S. workplace, and 43% more confident in their ability to get truthful and direct answers to direct questions than at a typical workplace.

It’s these kinds of high-trust workplaces that create the conditions where companies on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® List outperform the market by a factor of three.

How to build trust

Edelman’s research identifies some common strategies to build trust and ensure new ideas can take off:

1. Listen to your people

Across all institutions, including business, government, media, and non-profit agencies, Edelman found that listening was a top three action to build trust.

That’s especially true in the workplace, where Great Place To Work’s research has shown the importance of employee listening to drive important outcomes.

Listening is the most important of the nine high-trust leadership behaviors and a key ingredient for increasing the speed of innovation at your company.

2. Offer employees a say in how new tools will be used

Edelman’s research found that audiences were much more likely to accept new innovation when they felt people like them had a lot of control over how these new tools would affect their lives.

One way to consider how employees feel included or disconnected from innovation is to examine your Innovation Velocity Ratio.

Great Place To Work’s proprietary platform can identify how many employees at your company are ready to innovate, versus the number of employees who experience friction.

Ask your employees if they feel included in decision-making that affects their jobs. The more agency and power employees feel they have, the more ready they will be to adapt to change.

3. Use your mission to inspire employees to grow

“Leaders might see AI as the ‘next big thing’ and focus all their attention on how that will affect their business,” says Julian Lute, senior strategic advisor at Great Place To Work. “They will need to give equal attention to communicating how AI will positively impact employees, and create opportunities for growth.”

It’s important for employees to feel a sense of purpose when dramatically changing their work environment. Great Place To Work research has found that even well-meaning organizations can struggle to connect frontline employees to a deeper purpose around their work. When that happens, these employees feel excluded from innovation, and innovation rates are slowed.

To overcome reluctance, Lute recommends finding ways to connect change to a desired final outcome — and lean into your mission as an organization.

You can’t assume that everyone in the organization understands how new technology like AI might connect to your company purpose.

“Talk about the new technology through your organization’s values, how it supports your purpose, and how it will benefit your customers and employees,” Erb says.

Edelman’s research again confirms the need for top executives in your company to speak openly with employees about the future. Almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents said they expect CEOs to manage changes occurring in society, not just in their business. In particular, respondents said it was important for CEOs to speak publicly about issues like future job skills (82%), ethical use of technology (79%) and the impact of automation on jobs (78%).

Get more insights:

Hear what our leaders of Best WorkplacesTM say about building a great workplace culture. Listen to the Great Place To Work ASEAN and ANZ podcast episodes here.

TED KITTERMAN

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Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying 2.1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting 5.9 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Bahrain, Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2022 or early 2023.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000+) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying over 1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting over 4.7 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2021 or early 2022.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Singapore 2023 Evaluation Methodology

This year, Great Place To Work® Singapore is proud to launch our inaugural Singapore Best Workplaces™ in Healthcare & Biopharma List. This list recognizes exemplary companies in the healthcare & biopharma industry.

Recognized as a global hub for medical technology and research, Singapore has attracted top healthcare and biopharma talents and companies from around the world. It has become the center for essential healthcare services and innovations with its world-class research institutes, academic medical centers, and industry clusters.

In turn, the healthcare and biopharma sectors play a critical role in the country’s economic competitiveness, sustainability, and innovation. These industries have significantly helped in the overall improvement of public health and well-being of the people of Singapore and its neighboring countries.

The inaugural Singapore Best Workplaces in Healthcare and Biopharma List puts the spotlight on the organizations that are dedicated to providing employee satisfaction and engagement, and their commitment to excellence in the industry.

The companies in our Great Place To Work Certified™ community have the premier distinction that helps attract the best talent, build your employer brand, and secure a competitive advantage. To achieve this, they built a working environment that is purpose-driven and people-first. These companies have demonstrated that showing authentic care, prioritizing employee’s holistic well-being, and building a culture of trust go hand in hand with growth and success.

To determine the 2023 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Healthcare and Biopharma, Great Place to Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore.Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place to Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place to Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry.The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced.To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place to Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place to Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category.

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Singapore 2023 Evaluation Methodology

To determine the 2023 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Technology, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore. Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place To Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry. The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category.

Methodology

This year, Great Place To Work™ Singapore is proud to launch our inaugural Singapore Best Workplaces in Technology List. This List recognizes exemplary companies in the information and communication technologies industry in four categories:

  • Micro category (10–29 employees)
  • Small (30-99 employees)
  • Medium (100-999 employees)
  • Large (> 1000 employees)

With Singapore’s ambition to be recognized as a regional technology hub, the influx of technology firms (around 80 of the world’s top 100 technology firms have a presence here) and global rankings that place us a leading technology hub outside of San Francisco, the establishment of a Singapore Best Workplaces List in Technology is indeed a timely and needed one. Technology firms in Singapore are characterized by hyper-growth and ambitious expansion plans. This means a continuous war for talent in a highly competitive and rapidly evolving industry.

To maintain our lead as a technology and innovation hub, the ability to attract, retain and sustain skilled talent is critical. We are proud that companies in our Great Place To Work®-Certified community List have built a high-trust culture, engaged employees and maximized their potential to facilitate innovation. They are purpose-driven and adopt a people-first mindset. These are companies that have shown that authentic care and employee well-being need not be compromised for ambitious growth, and that it is possible for businesses to scale up quickly and responsibly. Their culture and core values are embodied in every individual—from senior leadership to rank-and-file employees—and differentiate them from their competitors, priming them to be powerful magnets for top talent.

To determine the 2022 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Technology, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore.Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place To Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry.The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category

 

Methodology

To determine the 2022 Singapore’s Best Workplaces™️, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing close to 70,000 employees across different industries in Singapore. Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place to Work For All™️. 85% of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do.

Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical in their industry. The remaining 15% of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Companies with 10-29 people were considered for the Micro category; those with 30 to 99 people for the Small category; companies with 100 to 999 employees were considered for the Medium category; and those with 1,000 or more for the Large category.

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Singapore 2023 Evaluation Methodology

To determine the 2023 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Technology, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore. Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place To Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry. The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category