Many recent happenings in the addiction treatment industry underscore the growing importance of patient trust; however, wariness is not limited to our industry. A recent survey conducted by Edelman reveals that trust across institutions ranging from business to government is at a considerable low.
Edelman’s annual “Trust Barometer” measures the general population’s trust in four key institutions: business, government, NGOs and the media. The study found that trust declined broadly across all institutions worldwide in 2017; however, business remains the one institution that retains some trust with those skeptical of the system as a whole.
According to the survey, distrust in the system stems from a belief that there is a lack of concern among leaders to do what’s right. 83 percent of respondents who believed the system is failing also believed there is an erosion of social values, and 77 percent believe there is corruption.
It’s clear that we’ve reached a crisis of trust, but there is a silver lining for those of us in the business sector. Edelman’s survey found that 3 out of 4 respondents believe that businesses are capable of taking actions that both increase profits and positively impact society.
For those in the addiction treatment space, the opportunities to showcase altruism and operate in the interest of the greater community are boundless. After all, helping people is at the core of any addiction treatment business.
What may not be so obvious is the ways in which consumers evaluate the trustworthiness of an organization. Edelman’s research and other similar studies indicate that consumers evaluate how a company treats employees as a crucial component of trustworthiness. For example, a Harvard Business Review study found that higher customer satisfaction is linked to stronger workplace cultures. And according to Edelman, “no single action is more interconnected with building trust than treating employees well.”
The Edelman study also indicates that consumers believe employees are the most credible spokespeople across a variety of topics including: the treatment of employees and customers; financial earnings and operational performance; business practices; innovation efforts; and views on industry issues.
Additionally, the credibility of CEOs fell dramatically worldwide, indicating that business leaders may not be the best people to bolster a company’s reputation or develop trust among the general population. More than ever, employee satisfaction and empowerment is crucial to your organization’s reputation and success.
Developing a positive work environment and treating employees well is much more complex than simply providing good pay and great benefits or surveying employees about their satisfaction. It’s about engaging employees and making them an integral part of the company fabric.
Edelman offers an “inside out” approach to building trust with consumers:
When your employees feel empowered and listened to, they will be more likely to discuss your organization with others in a manner that’s both positive and enthusiastic. And the benefits of this type of reputation bolstering are pronounced. Consumers value personal experience over data and stats when it comes to believability, and 55% of respondents say individuals are more believable than institutions.
For the rehab industry, these findings are also indicative of the importance of online reviews and your employees’ weight in shaping such reviews. Edelman’s survey found that for the first time ever “a person like yourself” is now as credible of a source of information about a company as a technical or academic expert.
Those directly caring for your patients shoulder significant responsibility in shaping patient perspectives and the resulting reviews. The satisfaction of your employees not only shapes their outward opinions, it also influences the level of care, patience, and hospitality they provide patients. A Gallup study of 200 hospitals found that increasing the engagement level of nurses improved mortality rates. There is a direct correlation between employee engagement and the level of care provided.