The findings in this year’s Barometer underscore the reality that if businesses are to regain trust, they will need to adopt a strategy of Public Engagement, by means of a shift in policy and communications. The four pillars of Public Engagement are:
- Public sector diplomacy – Business must partner with Government and NGOs to address key policy issues, not just those that impact their bottom line. If companies fail to do so, they run the risk of having policies thrust upon them.
- Shared sacrifice – CEOs must demonstrate that they too feel the burden of the recession to show that they are in tune with the realities facing employees. Transparency and collaborative spirit are key to engaging employees in finding and embracing solutions.
- Mutual social responsibility – Companies must realign their business practices so that they deliver dual objectives: benefit society and the bottom line.
- Continuous conversation – Two thirds of respondents said they need to hear information three to five times to believe it. The CEO should set forth the company’s position via a number of mediums including mainstream media, key influencers and the use of employees as ambassadors.
An adherence to transparency is at the core of each of Public Engagement’s pillars. Organisations must be forthright and honest in their actions and communications. When problems arise within companies, stakeholders need to see senior executives take a visible lead in acknowledging errors, correcting mistakes, and working with employees to avoid similar problems going forward. The essence of Public Engagement is the commitment of companies to say and do as they say. Read more about Public Engagement below.