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What can organizations do to strengthen trust in the workplace?

What you'll learn on this podcast episode

The meaning of work has shifted, and employees across generational divides are demanding a reset. Data from a special edition of Edelman's 2023 Trust Barometer—the Trust at Work report—notes that trust in “my employer” is higher than that of most institutions out there. But employees are expecting more, and their influence in the workplace is rising. How can companies leverage trust and adapt their own practices to better address employee concerns? On the season 10 finale of the Principled Podcast, host Emily Miner discusses key findings from the 2023 Trust at Work report with David M. Bersoff, the head of research at Edelman Trust Institute. Listen in as the two explore how employers can strengthen trust in the workplace and beyond. 

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Guest: David M. Bersoff, Ph.D.


David M. Bersoff is the Head of Research for the Edelman Trust Institute, Edelman’s think tank dedicated to advancing the study of trust in society. As the Institute's Chief Trust Scientist, David is responsible for ensuring the quality, integrity, and scientific value of all of Edelman's trust-oriented research, which includes the annual Trust Barometer, the biggest and longest running global study of institutional trust, as well as yearly topical studies examining issues such as climate change, trust in the healthcare system, trust in the workplace, trust in brands, and racial justice. He also oversees all of the Trust Institute's external research projects done in partnership with other academic, social policy, and philanthropic institutions. 

Prior to joining Edelman in 2016, David spent 17 years as a consumer insights and marketing strategy consultant at The Futures Company (nee Yankelovich). In his last 5 years with the organization, he served as its Chief Insights Officer and was a member of its global board of directors. In that role, he ran the Global Insights Group and drove the research, data analysis, IP creation and product development strategy for all of their syndicated consumer insights offers. In addition to his background in IP development and insights product management, David has also served as a trusted advisor and marketing/brand strategy consultant to major clients in industries as diverse as financial services, automotive, media, professional organizations, energy, and the military. 

Before entering the consulting world, David spent 12 years engaged in social science research at Yale and the University of Pennsylvania, where he was an assistant professor of social psychology and research methodology and served on its IRB. 

In addition to this work, David's thought leadership activities include serving on the advisory boards of research projects stewarded by the Global Listening Project, Weave: the Social Fabric Project, and the World Values Survey Association. 

David holds a BA summa cum laude in Philosophy and a Ph.D. in social psychology, both from Yale University. 

Host: Emily Miner


Emily Miner is a vice president in LRN’s Ethics & Compliance Advisory practice. She counsels executive leadership teams on how to actively shape and manage their ethical culture through deep quantitative and qualitative understanding and engagement. A skilled facilitator, Emily emphasizes co-creative, bottom-up, and data-driven approaches to foster ethical behavior and inform program strategy. Emily has led engagements with organizations in the healthcare, technology, manufacturing, energy, professional services, and education industries. Emily co-leads LRN’s ongoing flagship research on E&C program effectiveness and is a thought leader in the areas of organizational culture, leadership, and E&C program impact.

Prior to joining LRN, Emily applied her behavioral science expertise in the environmental sustainability sector, working with non-profits and several New England municipalities; facilitated earth science research in academia; and contributed to drafting and advancing international climate policy goals. Emily has a Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida with a degree in Anthropology.

Principled Podcast transcription

Intro: Welcome to the Principled Podcast, brought to you by LRN. The Principled Podcast brings together the collective wisdom on ethics, business and compliance, transformative stories of leadership and inspiring workplace culture. Listen in to discover valuable strategies from our community of business leaders and workplace change-makers.

Emily Miner: The meaning of work has shifted, and employees across generational divides are demanding a reset. Trust in my employer is higher than that of most institutions out there, but employees are expecting more, and their influence in the workplace is rising. Data from a special edition of Edelman's 2023 Trust Barometer reveals that employees want three key things from their employers. They want commitment to action on societal issues. 

They want to leverage voices within the organization that employees already hear, and they want companies to embrace the employee base as information amplifiers. So how can companies leverage trust and adapt their own practices to better address employee concerns? Hi, and welcome to another episode of LRN's Principled Podcast. I'm your host, Emily Miner, vice president of Advisory Services at LRN. Today, I'm joined by David M. Bersoff, the head of research at Edelman Trust Institute. 

I had the pleasure of hosting David on this podcast last year following the inaugural release of their special report on trust in the workplace. This time around, we're going to be talking about key findings from the 2023 edition of Edelman's Trust in the Workplace Report. It's a timely topic, and we'll explore how employers can strengthen trust in the workplace and beyond. David is a real expert in this space, having spent the last two decades leading research, data analysis, and insights initiatives for Edelman and The Futures Company's Global Insights Group. David, thanks so much for joining me again on the Principled Podcast. 

David Bersoff: My pleasure, Emily. 

Emily Miner: So, David, for listeners that may be unaware, can we start with some basics? I'd love for you to provide a brief overview of what Edelman's Trust Barometer is, the history, and then also the special report that we're talking about. 

David Bersoff: Sure. So the Trust Barometer kind of the main study that we've been doing on a yearly basis started in 2001, and it focuses on understanding the current levels of trust globally in business, government, NGOs, and media. And we not only measure trust in those institutions, but we try to understand the context in which trust in those institutions is either trending up or trending down. Now, in 2019, we first thought of asking about employers as an institution separate from business, government, NGOs, and media. And what we found in 2019 was that employers were more trusted than those other four societal institutions. It was the most trusted institution that we looked at. 

A couple of years later, we did another study, and this was not necessarily part of the full trust study or the main trust study. But we did one that was more focused on understanding employers and employees and the relationship between the two. And in September of 2021 is when we really sort of identified this phenomenon that we call the belief-driven employee. And what this is about is it's about employees who choose who they want to work for based not only on the standard things like is it a good job. Has it got fair pay? Does it have nice benefits? Am I going to enjoy the work? Is the work going to be sustaining? But also, how do my values align with the values of the organization that I would be working for? 

And what is that organization doing to further those values and beliefs not only internally within the organization but also externally out in the broader society? Then, in 2022, sort of the next year, we did an iteration of this employer-employee focus study. We talked about the idea of the workplace as an island of civility. So in that timeframe, September 2022, I mean, we'd already been in the midst of a lot of polarization and rancor, not only in the US but in other countries as well. It was really hard to get anything done. We had numbers showing that lots of people felt that they were living in the midst of a Cold Civil War that, because of our divisions, had become so deeply rooted, and it was so hard to kind of work past them or through them. 

And what we found, though, is that even in the midst of all of this crazy and chaos, the workplace somehow emerged as this island of civility. It was a place where if you couldn't talk directly about the issues that you had differences with with other people, you could at least work with them. You could come together and work past those differences or pursue other goals that would help drive the success of the company. And therefore, the prosperity of the employees of that company. So we really sort of identified this workplace as a very special place, and we talked about how could the specialness of the workplace perhaps be exported outside the walls of the workplace. 

Fast-forward to 2023, kind of where we are today, and here this year, we're talking about this idea of the workplace reconsidered that employers must rethink what work means to employees and then respond appropriately. And in terms of the specifics of this year's study, so some of the data we're going to be referencing and talking about and some of the stuff you mentioned at the top of the show, is based on a study of seven countries, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, UK, US a thousand employed respondents per country for a total sample of about 7,000 employed people. 

Emily Miner: David, thanks for that overview. I'm definitely excited to dig into the special relationship, as you put it, between employers and their employees. And to that point, one of the things that struck me about this special report was what you termed the expanding employer remit, and I'm wondering if you can talk about that evolution and place it into context for us. 

David Bersoff: Sure. So there's sort of, again, I think it was a version that we did this one or two iterations ago, but we talked about the new employer-employee compact. What are the mutual expectations and responsibilities that employers and employees have for each other? And I think you alluded to this again at the top of the show. But the three pillars that we identified were sort of opportunities for career advancement. So in terms of the questionnaire, we ask its prospective employees or people who are employees, what do they strongly expect from an employer when they're considering a job or perhaps even it's a deal breaker. 

And the elements that we found, the characteristics that we found fell into these three buckets. And the first one was career advancement. So not surprising. This is the bread-and-butter stuff, right. You want competitive wages, you want good benefits, you want work experience, perhaps some access to training, and sort of the ability to move up. The next pillar was culture and empowerment. This was really about, "I don't just want a secure paycheck, but I want a work culture where I feel empowered, where I feel listened to, where I have the opportunity to give input, where there's regular and truthful communication between sort of the executives or the leaders of the organization and the employees of the organization." 

That became sort of the second pillar. And then the third pillar, which we think is the newest pillar and the pillar where sort of most of the action is, if you will, in terms of where companies can win or lose the talent wars once they've sort of taken care of the basics was really this ability to have societal impact. That you're working for a company whose values reflect your values, a company that has greater purpose, a company that allows you to do work that might have a meaningful impact on the future, listens to employees, not just in terms of, say, operational things, but in terms of business we may or may not want to have or engage in, products we may or may not want to be involved with. So really listening to employees in the context of how what we do as a business impacts society and is it impacting society in a way that I want. 

And I would argue that the career stuff has been around since day one. That's sort of the foundation of the employer-employee compact. You've got to have that. More recently, there's been an emphasis on sort of the empowered employee and employee culture, but it's not new-new. It's just newer than career advancement. As I said, it's the societal impact piece that's the newer part. And that sort of defines to some extent what we mean when we talk about the fact that employers need to rethink what work means to employees because a lot of the newness in that area, a lot of the insights in asking yourself, what does work mean to employees these days is going to sort of orbit around this idea of societal impact. 

Emily Miner: As I listened to you talk about those three pillars of the employer-employee compact, it just seems like this conversation is really timely for me as an employee because just yesterday at LRN, we launched an ethical culture assessment, which is a service that we offer to our clients, but we're also drinking our own champagne as they say, and doing this exercise on ourselves. And the scope of the assessment does touch on all three of those pillars. 

And I'm encouraged. I can't wait to see the results and how what our collective experience is as an organization. But it's that last pillar, the newest one that you were talking about, the ability to have societal impact that, I think, is something that we have incorporated. And we're thinking about, and we're talking about, but I think there's also room for us to grow there. Anyway, just kind of wanted to share that direct and personal corollary to those three buckets that you outlined for us. 

David Bersoff: Oh, sure. And to that end, in terms of the survey or initiative that you launched that you just described, we do talk about the idea of surveying your employees, employee satisfaction surveys, they've been around forever. That's not a new thing. Asking your employees if they're happy and if they trust their manager and if their work is fulfilling, and if they think they're being paid fairly, that's pretty standard HR stuff that's been around for a while. 

Where we start seeing companies pushing the boundaries of that a little bit is when those employee satisfaction branch into asking things about the kinds of things employees value and what kinds of issues they feel the organization should be speaking out on or getting engaged with. So it's really this idea of being able to get some sense of the kind of societal impact your employees are looking to have. 

What do they expect you... Even above and beyond what they feel is personally important, what do they expect you as an organization to be working with them on being their partner for change around, where did they stand on some of the big issues of the day? That's where you start seeing employers really trying to fully embrace and understand that what work means to employees today is not what it necessarily meant back when they were just coming up. 

Emily Miner: And so I want to kind of follow that thread a little bit because one of my takeaways from reading the special report and, in particular, looking at the year-over-year movement, whether that was up or down, that you all have been tracking, is it seems as if employees or the data would suggest that employees increasingly grow more willing and comfortable to call their employees out to... Oops, sorry, their employers out, to hold them accountable to raise their hands and say, "What's our stance on XYZ? I want to have a conversation about it, and I want to understand what our stance is." And so, employee expectations of their employers to participate in, to contribute to, to comment on a range of social issues is rising. 

David Bersoff: Mm-hmm. 

Emily Miner: We also see in the data that employees want a work-life reset, as you put it earlier. And then I think there was a lot of... kind of awareness of this was raised a lot during the pandemic and the Great Resignation. But even though I think most people agree that the Great Resignation is over, we're still seeing those strong signs that employees want a work-life reset to call out [inaudible 00:14:30] data point or two to support that. 67% in your study of employees are reevaluating how they spend their time. 

And 72% think that employers need to rethink what work means. And you've alluded to that as well, but just to put a number behind that. So we've got this really strong expectation for a partnership between the employer and the employee and this growing sense that as an employee, I'm going to hold you employer to account for what you say and for what I hope to see in you. 

David Bersoff: Mm-hmm. 

Emily Miner: And yet we also see that, I was kind of surprised by this number, almost 80% of the respondents worry about losing their job. And, of course, we continue to see headlines around reductions in force and layoffs. So I guess I'm holding both of these to potentially seeming polar opposites where, historically, if I was afraid of losing my job, I wasn't going to kind of raise my hand and stick my neck out and speak up. But it seems as if both of these are happening at the same time. And I'm just wondering if you could comment on that and sort of explain what that message is here for business leaders. 

David Bersoff: Oh, sure. Absolutely. So just also to put some numbers against the three pillars. So career advancement, about 83% of employees expect those aspects to be part of their job. The culture and empowerment is 80. The societal impact is 71, a very high and significant number, not quite as high as the others. But for that, 71% who say that being able to have that kind of impact is a strong expectation or a deal breaker. It's not like a ping pong table or a snack cart or a masseuse. It's not something that you give when times are tough. 

And that sort of question or that uncertainty, I think, bespeaks a lack of full belief that societal impact has become as central to the meaning of work in people's lives as they have. So if we sort of take your question or your concern or the point you raised, and we apply it to some of these other things. Like desperation aside, people who just have to find a way to pay the rent or feed the family, desperation aside, would you take a job or in order to keep your job. Would you give up on having work that is at all interesting or sustaining or giving up on any opportunity to grow in your career or to learn within your job? 

Would you be willing to give up having regular truthful communications with your employer, the ability to have some sort of input, to feel empowered, to work in an environment that's sort of diverse and welcoming and opening? I would submit that most people would say, "No, those are not negotiable even in tough economic times." And so the point I want to make is that for these 71% of people, these things, the societal impact, those aren't negotiable. That is part of why they work. That is part of what they expect to get out of their job, and they're not going to give up on that just because times are hard any more than they're going to give up on some of these more basic fundamental parts of work. 

And so yes, in the same study, we get 74% of people saying that when they're considering a job, they want the opportunity to do work that will shape the future in some meaningful way. Alongside, 78% of people telling us that they have some concern about losing their job for any number of reasons, from recession to automation to trade conflicts to cheaper foreign competitors or offshoring, etc. There's definitely job fear out there, but this is not something that they're willing to give on. This is not a perk. This is fundamental to what it means to have a job worth doing. And while that's true, I'm not going to say that there's not some concern about that out there. 

So we did say, see, 47% of people said that, "If my employer is facing economic uncertainty, I worry they'll ignore the promises it made to employees about addressing social and societal issues and focus only on the bottom line." But my point is worrying about that happening does not mean that they're willing to give up on it. And that third pillar is a pillar. It may be a slightly smaller pillar or may be relevant to a slightly smaller number of people, but it's just as fundamental to work and the meaning of work as any of the other things that have traditionally been part of the job. 

Emily Miner: That's really clarifying. And to underline that key takeaway as you sort of helped me untangle what I was originally seeing as contradictory, it's that the bar has been raised. So you put it, "This is now fundamental. It's non-negotiable. So yes, I want a competitive salary and benefits, etc. But I also want to work for an employer that I feel or perceive is making a positive impact on the world, and that by joining, I will be able to contribute to that positive impact." That's the new table stakes. 

David Bersoff: Yes, absolutely. And similarly, you don't want to be contributing to the success of an organization that's out there in the world, creating change or pushing for change or supporting change that goes against your values and what you think is important. It's just people are not willing to do that. And to give even a little bit more context for all of this, the reason why employers, to some extent, are the focus of this desire for partnership for positive change is, in part, because they are trusted. 

So it's a trusted entity, but it's also an entity that I have some leverage or influence over, right. So I can at least have some sort of impact on the decisions they make, the issues they weigh in on, the actions they take. And my employer is much more powerful and resourced than I am or most of the other institutions that I can have a leverageable trusting relationship with. It's really this idea that the employer-employee relationship has a huge amount of potential because it is the only institutional relationship that people have that is trusting, leverageable, and is with somebody who can actually make a difference out there in the world. 

And if you have that in the context of not being able to trust government, not being able to trust NGOs or media, and having marginal levels of trust in business, it's no wonder why people are investing so much into this relationship, so much into work, so much into their employer because it is sort of their last best hope for accomplishing positive change in the world. And I think that's another reason why you see this as being basically recession-proof, or economic-proof because you can think it's... Actually, we did an analysis, I think, maybe last year, year before, where we actually looked at people who had high versus low fears of being laid off, and it was those with the highest levels of fears that were actually more likely to want their employers to weigh in on these issues and to be engaged. 

And you can understand that if you think in terms of people who are at risk of being laid off are in some ways victims of an economy, a society, a system that's not working. And so it's even more important to them than ever to have some sort of ability to create positive change, to correct things, to make things better. And while their current employer may have let them down, to some extent in that regard, they're not giving up on employers as still that last best chance of being able to do something positive of having an impact. 

Emily Miner: It makes so much sense too because work is where probably most of us spend most of our time. I mean, certainly much more than we engage with the media or government. I mean, of course, we vote, and we make comment or write letters and there are activity that we can engage in, but the frequency and the level of access as well to decision-makers and the ability to be some of those decision-makers is going to be so much greater with our employers and with some of the other institutions that you're mentioning. 

David Bersoff: Exactly. I mean, if you just look at the polarization in government. The inability of elected leaders to get anything done because they're fighting with each other, it's not surprising that people have more confidence or feel that who they decide to work for probably has more influence on their ability to shape the future than who they vote for. 

Emily Miner: So I want to just switch gears a little bit and talk about some of the generational insights that you covered in this report. And the one that stood out to me the most was about the impact of Gen Z. And I've read a lot about the impact of Gen Z on employers. There's so many articles written sort of targeted at business leaders for how can you give feedback to Gen Z employers and how can you adjust your expectations or how you communicate? There's a lot about that employer-employee relationship that I think has been written about with respect to Gen Z. But what I hadn't seen anywhere until reading your special report was the impact that Gen Z is having on their peers on their colleagues. 

And so this stat that jumped out at me was 93% say they have been influenced by co-workers in their 20s, so Gen Z, on a host of issues. And I just found that to be really high. And so there's... I guess, welcome your reaction on that statistic in and of itself. But it also made me wonder, of course, every generation makes its mark in some way on business and society. Would you say that this is in line with previous generation's impact, or does it stand out in some way? Do we even really have the ability to make that assessment? So that's the part two to my question. 

David Bersoff: Right. So let me put that 93% in perspective. The 93% is people who said that they've been influenced by their co-workers in their 20s in one or more ways. So it's not as if Gen Z is coming in and completely making over the workforce in their own model or in their own image. So we ask about things in terms of the possibilities where you could be influenced by Gen Z in terms of work-life boundaries, employer involvement in societal issues, your willingness to pressure employer to change things in your organization you don't approve of, fair pay for work, openness to unions, the extent to which your job is central to your identity, how much you advocate for yourself, your level of desire to achieve success, your openness to innovation. 

And it's really this idea that 93% of people said, "Yes, in one or more of those ways, I have been influenced to some extent by my Gen Z co-workers." And that's not just the generation above them. It peters off a little bit as you get older and older, but even employees in their 50s, a majority of them, have recognized the influence of this generation. In terms of whether this is an outsized effect on co-workers than previous generations. We don't have the data specifically on that to make a conclusive pronouncement on that. But I think some of the reasons why it may seem more salient these days are around things like employer expectations for involvement in societal issues or willingness to pressure their employer to change the things that the organization is doing. 

It's sort of that idea that Gen Z is influencing that third pillar we keep referring to. And that third pillar is a very salient pillar. It's getting a lot of discussion. It is, as I said before, I think where the winners and losers in the talent war are going to be determined. And so, it may not be that Gen Z has outsized influence on their co-workers. But they have influence on their co-workers on those things that are being focused on right now, those things that are perhaps of the greatest concern to people in the employee experience sector or business. 

Emily Miner: Okay. That makes sense. And thanks for clarifying sort of right-sizing, if you will, the impact and how we should interpret it. So I want to close us out by going back to the original call to action that I think comes out of this special report, which is that employers must rethink what work means to employees. So again, back to those three pillars beyond a meaningful wage and benefits and a strong culture that also societal impact. So for those business leaders that are listening, how should they start with this rethinking what work means? 

I will say that your... the research does offer some indications. So, for example, there was a section around how employers can create the infrastructure for employees to participate in decision-making and share perspective. And you've talked about that a few times throughout the course of our conversation. So that forum for input and empowerment and two-way conversation and impact. What are some of the other pieces of advice that you would give to employers for how they can rethink what work means or what they need to be thinking about as they're considering what work means for their employees? 

David Bersoff: So I think if we're to sort of put it in a nutshell, these days, a majority of your employees expect you to be their partner in driving positive change in society. That should be your North Star. That is sort of your goal is to be seen that way. And so then what flows from that is, "Okay, what do we need to do in order to be that partner in driving positive change? What does that mean for our organization?" And part of it is realizing that that is an expectation, doing what you can to understand where your employees stand on some of these issues. 

So a lot of this idea of infrastructure for input, I think, sometimes gets pigeonholed is, "Oh, it's just giving employees the opportunity to talk about operational issues or give us their ideas or give us their perspective, but mostly about the workings of the business." You need to expand that to include what is important to them in life and how does that translate into the expectations that they have for you as their employer. Another aspect of this, of course, is trust. Trust is the foundation of what makes the employer-employee relationship special. 

It has impacted all three pillar levels, but certainly at that third one. So something else I try to emphasize because we're often asked, what do we need to do to get our employees to trust us more? And what we've found in the data is that that's actually the wrong question to ask. You don't want to ask how do we gain the trust of our employees. You want to ask, how do we make our employees feel trusted by us? Because what we found is that if you don't feel that executive management trusts you, you don't trust them, and there's not much else you can do to fix that. 

Whereas, if you feel your executive management team trusts you, you trust them back. But what that means is you need to be asking the right question of yourself. You need to be looking at your organization in a slightly different way. The strategy shouldn't be about how do you win their trust. The strategy should be about how do we make them feel trusted by us. And as I said, trust is sort of the gasoline that powers all of this in terms of a good, productive relationship between employers and employees. So that's also a key issue in all of this. 

Another thing we found that you didn't bring up explicitly, but I think is also relevant here in terms of what business leaders need to be aware of is a group of employees that we call deskless employees. So in the context of the pandemic, there was a lot of talk of frontline workers. And frontline workers were sort of characterized as those people who were out there taking all the risk so the rest of us could kind of hunker down during the pandemic. So sort of the defining aspect of a frontline worker, the psychoactive aspect of it, was they were taking all the risk. 

Now that the pandemic is, I wouldn't say, normalized, but COVID is becoming kind of more background noise than something that's forefront, we don't think frontline worker is necessarily the key group to focus on. We call them deskless workers. And deskless workers are defined as people who don't work in an office, who have a job that makes it impossible for them to work remotely, and they're not in the executive level. And so here the psychoactive element, what defines them, what makes them particularly challenging is that they tend to be in the periphery of the organization and in the periphery of organizational culture. 

And corporate culture and corporate initiatives trickle down to them with all the [inaudible 00:34:29] consequences of it being a trickle. And so these people are the least likely to feel that their employer is doing good when it comes to environmental impact or when it comes to diversity, or even when it comes to taking care of employees. So a lot of the stuff we talked about, they're not going to directly benefit for the same degree as people in an office in front of a computer. 

This is a group of people you're going to have to go above and beyond and out of your way to make them feel loved, to make them be able to understand and appreciate what the organization is doing, and to make them aware of all of the things available to them to support them because their natural state is not to be aware and not to feel supported. And I think part of that is because they're not as part of the day-to-day culture as, say, someone who is in that corporate office, and the critical linchpin in terms of their attachments to the organization are their supervisors or their direct managers. 

That's the key relationship for them, even more so than trust in the CEO. And so this is a group that you really have to work to get to. This is a group that you're going to have to work harder for them to appreciate that they do have access to all three pillars. And this is a group that feels generally more marginalized and removed, which is why they're such a particular challenge. 

Emily Miner: I'm really glad that you brought that up, David, because this is a key challenge and an opportunity that a lot of our clients face in trying to engage, as you put it, the deskless workers in ethics and compliance program goals and activities. And it's hard. No denying that. But it does require more work and more creativity in terms of how you translate, whether that's literally or figuratively messages, and present them in different ways. But it's been so encouraging to see some really great examples of how organizations have done that. And I'm seeing, in my work with clients, a really big uptick in the use of QR codes, as an example. 

Disseminate information and QR codes you used to need a special app for them in order to use them. But now, as technology has improved and as we've all gotten comfortable with QR codes during the pandemic, there's a sense that people are much more comfortable with them. And so that is one way that we've been seeing our clients reach out to their deskless workers and also bringing a lot of the program activity and information into a digital format that can be accessed through your phone. So web-enabled codes of conduct, for example, we've seen a strong uptick in interest in that. 

And so again, kind of meeting employees where they are, recognizing that not everybody has an email address or a computer, but most people have a phone. But those are some innovations and communication channels. But I want to also come back to your point about supervisors and the important role that they play because it's so true. And there's a lot of research out there, including some of our own, that shows, for example, that the vast majority of employees go to their direct manager with concerns as opposed to a hotline, for example. 

And so that, to me, is one of the biggest opportunities to engender trust in terms of how me, as a manager, responds to those employee concerns. Is it in a way that would create a virtuous cycle, or is it in a dismissive way that kind of shuts the conversation down, as well as any future conversations? And so I've also been seeing a much greater rise in the inclusion of supervisor or sort of factory floor, to use a manufacturing example, leaders, line leaders, inclusion of those cohorts in leadership development programs. So it's not just kind of the senior management or the hypo leaders, but even bringing those opportunities some levels down. 

So that's another positive sign that I've seen from a lot of our clients. And the other example that I thought of as you were talking was with respect to ESG. And it's been interesting to watch how ESG has evolved from being primarily an investor-led reporting activity to now, I think, much more despite the, I think, general consensus that the name is terrible and it's confusing and maybe too big. But whatever we call it, not to mention that the [inaudible 00:39:30] of it, we've seen more focus on like operationalizing ESG into the business. So it's not a reporting exercise, or it is a reporting exercise, but it is also how does this translate into my job? 

David Bersoff: Yeah. And just to sort of build on what you're saying or to give some sense of scale here, at least in our data, three in 10 of our respondents, about 30% of our respondents were deskless workers. It's not a trivial slice of the pie. 

And while you could be on the periphery or outside the sort of where it's happening within an organization, and you can still get a sense of your paycheck and whether you're advancing and whether you're learning something on a job, that pillar one stuff, yes, you can appreciate at the periphery, but pillars two and three, kind of the empowerment, the culture, the impact, that stuff is not easy to see when you're on the periphery. 

And these people need to see and appreciate that if they're going to, as you say, be able to see how their job and how their employer fits into that North Star. That what they're doing and what they're doing with their employer is basically a partnership for introducing positive change in society. 

Emily Miner: Absolutely. Well, David, this is obviously a conversation that we could continue having, but we're out time for today. So thank you so much for joining me again on the Principled Podcast. 

David Bersoff: My pleasure. 

Emily Miner: And for those of you listening, thanks for tuning in to the Principled Podcast by LRN. 

Outro: We hope you enjoyed this episode. The Principled podcast is brought to you by LRN. At LRN, our mission is to inspire principled performance and global organizations by helping them foster winning ethical cultures rooted in sustainable values. Please visit us at lrn.com to learn more. And if you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen. And don't forget to leave us a review.

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