With so much of your time committed to work whether this is travelling to work, being at work or thinking about how you are going to meet that looming deadline, it becomes a key part of your life. The trouble is that when you spend such a significant amount of time on one thing it becomes part of your identity whether you like it or not, meaning that the reputation of who you work for and what you do has a direct impact on your own personal reputation. This is why 96% of Millennials said their company’s reputation is important when considering if they want to work (or not) for a certain company.
To demonstrate this job and individual association, how often when meeting people for the first time are you asked “what do you do?”, which normally leads you to talk about your profession and work? In these scenarios people have a preconception of certain jobs and companies which they will naturally associate with you. For example, the ‘McJob’ has been the title to tarnish people working at McDonalds, which has a largely negative perception of being low paid and only for the lowest tiers of society, however if you were to say you worked for Google for example, you are often met with a much more positive response.
With this being the case, it is no surprise that company reputation is very important as it becomes part of an individual’s reputation by association. The recent scandal about Volkswagen cheating CO2 emissions is a good example of a company with great reputation that has now slipped and others such as Fifa are now marred by corruption scandals.
As a result, the employees of these companies, many due to no fault of their own will also be tarnished with the same negative reputation whether this is simply getting a disapproving look at a dinner party when asked what they do or being negatively treated at a future job interview.
This drop in perception can have a dramatic affect on how others and employees perceive businesses, which can lead to difficulty recruiting new talent and keeping hold of existing talent, right at the time when these businesses need the best people to help the most.
Conversely if you work for a company that has a good reputation, behaves in an appropriate manner and plays its part in the world, you will feel a sense of pride in working for them. This behaviour also allows a greater level of forgiveness and understanding from both employees and the wider public if things do go wrong occasionally. This doesn’t mean the business has to be philanthropic, but does need to be socially conscious in their approach to business. A good example of a company that does this well is Virgin. They have a diverse number of businesses in some contentious sectors e.g. airlines, but the way they treat their employees and conduct their business gives them a level of loyalty from staff other businesses could only dream of and allows them to weather any negative events much better, for example, the tragic loss of a pilot in their Virgin Galactic incident in 2014.
For a long time company reputation has only been seen and valued from a business perspective in terms of loss of stock market value, lawsuits and loss of future profit earnings due to customers going elsewhere. However, my point is that company reputation has as much importance from an internal employee perspective as it does an external audience perspective, and needs to be carefully managed otherwise businesses risk losing talent right at the point when they need it most and will be unable to attract the kinds of talented people needed to improve things going forward.
This is why it is so important that any business has a clearly defined vision, mission and values that they live by on a daily basis in their decision making as it will mean such scandals cannot happen and if they do, they know it was by a genuine accident and not through ill practice. Until businesses recognise this and actually do something about it in order to change their culture, they will continue to find it hard to appeal to the future of their business – modern employees with a Millennial Mindset.