Workers trust their employers during the pandemic—for now

Good morning.

I received an email yesterday from Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute, who is one of the most reliable analysts of polling data I know, pointing out an interesting trend in recent tracking polls. Across a variety of them—Axios/Ipsos, Gallup, Harris—employers are consistently getting kudos for their performance during the pandemic.

The Axios/Ipsos poll, for instance, asked people how much trust they had in various organizations “to look out for the best interests of you and your family.” In its latest wave, 72% said they had either “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in their employer, compared to 60% for local government, 53% for state government, and 34% for the federal government. The employer result has remained above 70% since March, while all levels of government have seen sharp declines. And in the Gallup poll, 77% gave their employer strong marks for communicating the “right amount” of information about the pandemic.

“Across the polls, employers are getting high marks. Large majorities of workers trust them to look out for their best interest,” says Bowman. “Workers say their employers have clear plans, are stepping up to provide workplace protections, and are looking out for their wellbeing.”

That’s impressive, particularly given trust in business normally declines during an economic downturn. But Edelman CEO Richard Edelman—who also polls on trust issues—says the real test could come this fall, as more people return to the workplace. “Government had its moment in April and May, “ says Edelman. “Now the story is being written for business. The return to workplace is a fundamental part of that. People are going to go back only when companies answer their fears, and the way to answer their fears is to have companies insist on multiple levels of protection—masks, social distancing, so on.”

More news below.

Alan Murray

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