• Employer communication is at an advantage: People looking for reliable information about COVID-19 trust their own employer more than the government and media 
  • Multiple sources, little trust: Globally, 74 percent of people worry about fake news and the credibility of information about COVID-19. 
  • Partnerships: People expect government and business to work together

In the search for credible information, your own employer is the most trustworthy source, even in the days of COVID-19. This is demonstrated by the global Edelman Trust Barometer 2020 Special Report: Trust and the Coronavirus. From 6th to 10th March, the study was conducted in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, Great Britain and the USA.  

The study’s most important global results show what the current situation looks like in terms of human trust: 

1. Communication from one's own employer is the most credible

63 percent of those currently surveyed state that, once their employer has issued one or two communications, they trust the information about the coronavirus. By comparison, only 58 percent say the same for information from a government website, and 51 percent say this about information from traditional media. Over a third of respondents said they would never believe social media if they could only find a piece information there (35 percent).

2. Established news services are the most used source of information

Major news channels are used almost twice as much as online sites of global health organisations (e.g. WHO) or national health organizations (e.g. CDC). In total, 74 percent say they are concerned about the spread of fake news and false information about the virus. 

3. Scientists and doctors are the most trusted voices 

68 to 83 percent of respondents say they trust scientists and doctors most. A voice "like you and me" is trusted by 63 percent of respondents. In contrast, government officials (48 percent) and journalists (43 percent) are at the lower end of the rankings. 85 percent of respondents said they want to hear more information from scientists and less from politicians. 58 percent of those surveyed even fear that the crisis will be exaggerated for political purposes. The CEO of the company they work for ranks mid-level with 54 percent. 

4. People demand a regular flow of information

Seven out of ten respondents follow news about the coronavirus in the media at least once a day. 33 percent stated that they search for information several times a day. Employers are expected to update information about COVID-19 regularly, as 63 percent demand at least daily updates. 

5. The employer is better prepared for COVID-19 than the country itself

In eight out of ten countries surveyed, people’s own employers were considered to be better prepared for the virus than the country itself. 62 percent of respondents say that their employer responds effectively and responsibly to issues surrounding the virus. 

6. Government and business must work together

Neither the companies nor the government is considered capable of handling the situation alone. People's trust doubles when companies and government work together to combat the virus (20% vs. 45%).  

7. High expectations of the economy's ability to act 

78 percent of respondents expect the economy to take action to protect employees and the local community. 79 percent see it as the duty of employers to adapt their procedures, create regulations for working outside the office, cancel irrelevant events and prohibit business travel. Additionally, 73 percent expect human resources policies to be adjusted to include paid sick leave and preventing vulnerable employees from coming to work. 

8. Employers must pass on information 

Employees want clarity about how many colleagues have been infected with the virus (57 percent) and how this affects the company's ability to work (53 percent). Employees also want to be informed about the situation’s wider impact on the company, including advice on travel and what can be done to stop the virus spreading. They want to be informed by e-mail or newsletter (48 percent), by posting on the company's website (33 percent) and by telephone/videoconferencing (23 percent).  

"This form of responsibility is new and of great importance for companies. Employers must use their leap of faith now more than ever and respond to as many uncertainties as possible with targeted communication. The results clearly show that the public does not expect to go it alone, especially in crisis situations, but that institutions must work together as partners to initiate agile solutions and increase trust," says Christiane Schulz, CEO of Edelman Germany. "There is an urgent need for companies to enable fact-based decision-making and give their employees the feeling that they are part of a broad social movement to combat the virus". 

More news and tips about COVID-19 also in our newsroom. 



The Edelman Trust Barometer 2020 Special Report "Trust and the Coronavirus" was conducted from 6th to 10th March in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, Great Britain and the USA. A total of 10,000 people (1,000 per market) were surveyed. All data are representative on a national level, based on age, region and gender. 

The Special Report is a special edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer. 

The Edelman Trust Barometer is an annual study on trust in governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), business and the media, and was conducted for the 20th time this year by market-research company Edelman Intelligence. You can find further information here. 

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