Corporate reputation is everybody’s business

At Freshwater, we’re lucky enough to say we could never be ashamed of where we work. But a fifth of British workers are embarrassed to tell friends and family who they work for, according a new survey by the PRCA…

The study found that a company’s reputation is particularly important when workers choose a new job – something that becomes more important to people as they age. 40% of 55-64 year olds said that the reputation of the firm they worked for was important, compared to 26% of 18-44 year olds.

Clearly a company’s corporate reputation will impact on its ability to recruit and retain talent, as well as its ability to attract customers.

The two main threats to corporate reputation as identified by the survey were evidence of poor treatment of employees and a poor reputation of a company’s senior executives.

The majority of workers rated their company’s reputation as ‘good’, with UK retail giants like Marks and Spencer and John Lewis ranking highly – both notably invest time in engaging in meaningful communications programmes to build understanding of their brand and ethos.

John Lewis scooped the accolade of the company with the best corporate reputation in the UK, following a study by the Reputation Institute in 2014. The study took into account a company’s products and services, leadership and performance.

Andrew Moys, the director of communications at John Lewis Group, put the success of the brand down to its ownership model, whereby all employees own part of the business. He said: “When you walk into a Waitrose or John Lewis shop, you’re being served by an owner and our reputation rests on the service our customers receive through any channel.”

John Lewis built its business around people – known as partners, not “staff” or “employees” – who engage with its brand and message and act as genuine advocates for the business. As a result, everyone has a stake in maintaining John Lewis’ corporate reputation. And maintain it they do; few organisations can be credited with handling a hard-won reputation with as much care as John Lewis.

Corporate reputation needn’t be something that is managed at a corporate level. Proper internal communications and staff engagement can ensure that reputations are managed positively at every level of an organisation.

If you’re failing the reputation test internally with employees – as one in every five employers are – rest assured, your customers will not be too far behind.

Freshwater offers a range of specialist services including reputation, crisis management and bespoke communications training to bring your team together.