Some professions have a better reputation than others for integrity in the workplace. For example, you might blame a salesperson for selling you a gadget that stops working within a few days. In contrast, you might defend a scientist who invented a drug that comes with many adverse effects. What factors or characteristics place few professions in a more reputable position while building an untrustworthy view for others?
Trust is seen as part and parcel of any professional-client relationship as it’s a precondition for vesting institutions with responsibilities for the public. In theory, customer trust implies expectations of a particular kind, resulting in the cooperation of organizations, institutions, and people. For most individuals, demonstration of trust is a risky investment because if this trust is ill-founded, clients may react with disappointment in matters beyond their control.
Professions like nurses, doctors, lawyers, police, and first-responders have for a long time fought to maintain their reputation among the unsteady views of the public. But the recent pandemic, lockdown restrictions, and these unprecedented times have somehow hardened our opinions regarding certain professionals.
The following professions top the list for the most trusted ones in people’s eyes.
Although nurses have stood as one of the most trusted professions for several years running, the current burden on healthcare systems has boosted their reputability. Extended stays at the hospitals in a cold, sterile environment are not something people can associate with comfort. In a place where everything is clinical, the nurses provide reassurance and emotional support to the patients. They lookout for the immediate well-being of their patients and are therefore considered their champions.
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Keeping up with the popularity of medical professionals, many people regard doctors as highly trusted individuals. This trustworthiness seems to have increased across the globe amidst the pandemic when physicians stepped forward as front liners to treat their patients. Their services helped build on the high regard this profession has traditionally enjoyed for several decades.
Despite their positive reviews, patient trust in healthcare is somewhat a paradox. While people are more likely to trust their doctors, it’s the system they cannot trust. A significant factor contributing to this mistrust is growing commercialism in medicine, where clinical judgments are explicitly made based on financial incentives.
- Police officer
Integrity is an important characteristic that every law enforcement professional must-have. Democracy thrives when police officers commit to the citizenry, accept their role in controlling crime, and act according to their rules. The public must see that these professionals are also not above the law to build trust in this profession. Recent surveys and polls show that despite the controversies over police shootings and heavy-handed law enforcement, people still perceive police offers as ethical and honest individuals.
Additionally, public trust in such professions ensures that those tasked with these responsibilities don’t abuse their power. Police officers, like other law enforcement professionals, are held to a higher standard than those they serve and are accountable for their actions to the public.
- Armed forces
Armed forces are also one of the most trusted and well-reputable professions in the eyes of the public. The dedication and diligence from their work warrant nothing but respect in return. Those who serve in the military are always ready to lay down their lives for their fellow citizens without ever knowing them. They undergo harsh training and spend a significant part of their job working in grueling conditions to protect their country. Besides putting their lives at risk, they make personal sacrifices by prioritizing the state’s safety over their families and loved ones. Every day on the job is a dangerous one where risk is inevitable but unpredictable at the same time. Therefore, it doesn’t surprise people when they rank this profession as a trusted one.
Another profession whose efforts, although less recognized, were just as significant during the COVID-19 pandemic is that of teachers. Current evidence shows that teachers have worked longer hours during lockdown periods, putting in their best efforts to ensure their student progress isn’t compromised. The shift to remote learning and setting up virtual classrooms at a time of so much uncertainty wasn’t an easy task. Still, educational professionals stepped up to work on students’ academic outcomes and well-being.
Unfortunately, it’s typical to hear the public generally dislikes teachers. But this perception usually comes from negatively skewed portrayals of academic professionals in the media. Individuals in society value teachers more than they think, and this positive attitude also correlates with student achievement.
In most countries worldwide, firefighters are among the top trusted professionals. This respect stems from various reasons. The least of them is that they respond to an emergency regardless of who caused it. While everyone flees away from a dangerous situation, firefighters run towards it and try to save as many lives as possible. Alongside nurses, doctors, and military officers, it’s common for firefighters to enjoy more job-related prestige than other occupations.
There is a growing trend and increasing awareness regarding mental health and psychologists or counselors advocating for it. Individuals seek help from mental health professionals to deal with various social and psychological issues like loss, grief, anxiety, addiction, depression, or a general feeling of unpleasantness. The core principle of any counselor-client relationship is trust, based on which the entire dynamic between the duo progresses. Opening up to a professional is the first step towards a healthy recovery, and this requires confidence and faith at the forefront.
Despite a plummeting faith in the financial sector, most people still trust their accountants. The public typically believes that a chartered accountant is more likely to embrace specific standards and ethics than other industry professionals. It’s unclear whether this confidence comes from the lack of choice people have when trusting someone with their money or some other reason. Face-to-face interactions with clients are vital in developing this trust, especially in the growing era of digitalization and virtual communications.
Whether the public trusts a particular profession largely depends on their life experiences and impressions. These perceptions may vary from one country to another, across continents, or even between different regions of the same state. However, the public generally agrees that nurses, doctors, police officers, armed forces, and teachers are the most trusted professions.