Do your employees trust you? The most recent Edelman ‘trust’ barometer shows most employees choose to believe what they hear in the break room from their peers instead of formal announcements made by  management. If gossip machine controls the information flow in your company, here’s what you need to do.

The Edelman survey finds that only 51% of employees trust their managers.  The trust number for CEOs is slightly higher at 64%. Then, there’s the organization itself. Only 48% of workers say their organizations are trustworthy. In an era of transparency and social media, these numbers don’t bode well for any company that is trying to build its reputation and its revenue base.

The improving economy means current and prospective employees are able to pick and choose where they are going to work. Younger employees, in particular, are more demanding about corporate trust these days. If they don’t like what they see and hear, they’re going to leave.

Exhibit Ethical Behavior

At least half of employees say it’s crucial for their leadership to exhibit ethical behavior, act responsibly during a crisis and consistently behave in an open and transparent manner. About half of employees also want the boss to treat them well and 4 in 10 workers feel better working for a leadership team they can admire.

If you and other members of your leadership team think things are going well at your organization on the employee trust front, you might want to start talking informally to the influencers in your organization to be sure. The Edelman research shows a 27% difference between the number of employees who want to be treated well and those who feel the organization is actually doing that. If you find a similar gap at your company, you need to close it.

As a leader, you are responsible for setting ethical behavior standards, for example. Most workers don’t want to be part of an organization run by individuals who bend the truth in order to get ahead. If your employees see anyone on your leadership team lying, they fear they’ll be asked to lie, too. Most employees want no part of that. Your workers also want to hear the truth about exactly how you’re going to handle a specific crisis – especially a crisis that involves a steep drop in sales or the failure of a new product.

Show Strength During a Crisis

It’s easy to stand in front of a group and boast when things are going according to plan. The real strength of a leader, and the one your workers are looking for, is demonstrated by what you do when faced with a crisis. You keep the lines of communication open. Instead of sending out an impersonal email, talk with your team members face to face in the break room or conference room. Give them the truth and tell them your plans – short-term and long-term for dealing with the crisis and how it will impact their jobs.

These actions will build the trust you need in your organization and strengthen loyalty and reputation.