Debi O’Donovan: How social networks impact on trust

In late 2011, there was a media flap about how London Underground (LU) planned to announce delays on the tube.

In the eyes of many commuters, the number of minutes that had to pass before a ‘minor’ or a ‘severe’ delay was declared was too high. Accusations were thrown around that LU was trying to do something underhand to improve its delays record.

What this showed up was how quick people are to question the intentions of others.

This is just as true in the workplace, especially after the hard times many employees, their managers and executives have experienced in recent years.

Trust is a fragile thing. It takes lengthy work to achieve, but can be damaged in an instant.

Our article, Reward’s role in building trust delves into the issue of trust in today’s workplace, as well as the trust relationship between benefits managers and their suppliers.

Broadly, as a society, we are increasingly putting our trust in what our peers say rather than what we are told by the experts, such as the government, marketers and business leaders.

Online peer reviews of products, sellers, hotels and restaurants carry increasing weight in the eyes of consumers. We will trust strangers over, say, well-known celebrities promoting consumables.

This concept of peer-to-peer review is said to be coming into the workplace, too. We have had the 360 review for years, but now what your peers say about you could influence your annual performance and development review. See our article, Where does recognition fit in a development review.

The influence of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks has helped shape this change, especially for younger staff.

Peer review ratings for suppliers and advisers in the employee benefits marketplace are harder to come by. Their services are more complex, and the needs of employer clients vary. However, for the first time, Employee Benefits has taken a measure of well over 400 employers to find out how they rate their advisers.

The overall Pensions Adviser Research 2013, which we plan to publish over the summer, will give advisers an insight into market share, what services employers use and how satisfied they are with these services, as well as the future needs of employers.

For larger advisers, on request, our researcher, Tina Harris, will be able to specify exactly how they ranked among their peers. This will provide an invaluable commercial insight from an unbiased audience. Not so much peer to peer, as consumer to supplier.

No matter who we are, without feedback, we cannot know if we are doing a good job.

Debi O’Donovan
Employee Benefits

Twitter: @DebiODonovan