Mar 16, 2020 - Economy

Most believe employers over government on coronavirus

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Most people say they are more likely to believe their employers than government websites or traditional or social media when it comes to information about the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Edelman Trust Barometer survey about the virus.

Why it matters: Absent consistent information from the government about the virus, and amid growing skepticism around fake news online, people are turning to business leaders for critical information.

Details: In most countries surveyed, including the U.S., people are more likely to believe that their employers are seen as better prepared than their countries to handle the outbreak, per the survey.

  • In the U.S., 51% of respondents say they trust that their employer is well-prepared, while 43% say that they trust that the country is.
  • Employers are expected to be a conduit of reliable information about the virus, including providing information about where to get tested and the latest statistics about the virus.
  • Most respondents globally say they prefer company-wide emails or newsletters as outreach, followed by posts to the company's internal website.

By the numbers: Most people (63%) say they are looking for daily updates from their employers about the virus.

  • In the United States, more than half (54%) say they are looking for daily updates, and nearly 20% say they are looking for updates several times per day.
  • The countries with some the worst outbreaks, like South Korea and Italy, have the highest percentage of people that say they want daily updates from their employers.

Be smart: Most people say they're likely to trust health care professionals and authorities — like doctors and hospitals and the World Health Organization (WHO) — to handle the virus effectively, followed by employers.

  • Most people globally (62%) and in the U.S. (69%) say they trust their employer to respond effectively and responsibly to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • A large majority of people globally (78%) and in the U.S. (75%) say businesses have a responsibility to ensure that their employees are protected from the virus in the workplace and that their employees do not spread the virus into the community.

Yes, but: When it comes to the most trusted spokespeople about the virus, most people say they trust health officials, such as scientists, doctors, and CDC and WHO officials over their employers.

The big picture: Diminishing trust in traditional societal leaders, like the government and traditional media, has generally forced people to turn to their employers more often for trusted information.

  • This ongoing dynamic has created a closer and more trusting employee-employer relationship over the past few years, but it has also placed more responsibility on CEOs and corporate leaders to communicate more effectively and efficiently with their employees.

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