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On health needs, employers are trusted most, according to new report

Some 68% of employees said they trusted their employer to do what’s right in addressing their health needs and concerns, according to an Edelman report.
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3 min read

The question of who to trust on health matters has grown more complex since the Covid-19 pandemic. As a new virus spread across the world, there was a near-constant deluge of information on how best to stay protected that was often in flux and sometimes conflicting. (Sanitize your packages! But wait, maybe don’t bother.)

During the pandemic, employers became a vital partner in disseminating critical health information to their workforces. And four years on, the employer is the institution employees trust most for addressing their health needs and concerns, according to a recent report from Edelman.

Employers are more trusted than government, media on health. The report draws from a survey of more than 15,000 people across 16 countries that was fielded March 4–13. When asked to assess how much they trusted different institutions “to do what is right in addressing my health needs and concerns,” 68% of employees rated their employer somewhere between 6–9 on a 9-point scale. This is higher than the share that reported this level of trust in business (52%), non-government organizations (49%), government (43%), or media (41%).

“We do think the pandemic accelerated people looking at their employer broadly here…the workplace really is the heart and soul of where so many people were spending that time and where they were getting information from on a host of issues,” Courtney Gray Haupt, Edelman’s global chief operating officer and US chair for health, told HR Brew.

One area in which employers can lean into this trust is information-sharing, Haupt said. Some 58% of respondents said information, such as “contradictory expert advice” and “changing health recommendations,” prevents them from taking better care of their health—an 8-percentage point jump from last year. Misinformation is now almost on par with cost as a barrier to respondents’ health.

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“Information is one where there actually seems to be a path that employers and others can really step into together,” Haupt said. “So, it’s a great place where employers can be partnering with local governments, with NGOs and nonprofits in your community to really think about sharing information, answering questions clearly.” Engaging leadership to speak out on these issues may prove helpful, as well. Respondents to the Edelman survey were more likely to trust their employer on health when their CEO spoke out to address public issues.

Pathways to preventative care. One positive knock-on effect of fostering workers who feel empowered, and trust the health system, is that they are more likely to seek preventative care, according to Edelman’s report. Such care can in turn help reduce employer health costs.

Haupt said it’s important for employers to keep in mind that their employees can be anywhere on the trajectory of trust and empowerment in health systems, and they should consider how to get information to more skeptical members of their workforce.

“It’s about how do we get them into a trusted health provider, so they start feeling that the system works for them, not against them,” Haupt said. “These are really important places that I think a combination of the healthcare community and the employer community together can really help employees.”

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.