Many words of advice have been written on the subject of reputation and on the critical factors that contribute to the development of a world class corporate reputation. A list of these factors often include mission, core values, product or service quality, adherence to ethical standards, responsiveness, reliability, communications expertise, technical proficiency and corporate citizenship. Clearly, these factors play a critical role in the building and strengthening of reputation. However, one critical factor that is often underestimated or ignored is the voice of the satisfied employee.
A corporation must always consider all constituencies in the strategic development of a corporate reputation but the employee constituency is one that should be near the top of the priority list. Having the employees believe in the mission, values, products and services and strategic direction of the corporation is not only essential to corporate success but also essential to how others shape their opinions of the corporation. When employees are satisfied and eager to discuss the attributes of the corporation they work for, external constituencies and the public at large take note. The endorsement of past and current employees can prove to be the most effective tool in enhancing a corporate reputation.
It is important to consider the fact that the critical key to success of any corporation is exceptional talent. When employees voice their support of the corporation’s strategic direction, human resources initiatives, development of products and services, financial stability, corporate culture and opportunities for growth, they send a very persuasive message to job seekers, the future talent of the organization and to other current employees. This message has the power to lower the recruitment costs, enhance the quality level of talent recruitment and improve retention. In addition, this persuasive message has the power to influence customers, vendors, investors, potential partners, media sources and regulatory officials.
Corporations that take the time to focus on the complete well-being of their employees have discovered a key to successful recruitment. When job seekers hear or read of employee satisfaction at any given company, they are encouraged to investigate why a great employee is content at a great company. The best and the brightest are very quick to migrate to corporations known for their attention to employee satisfaction. These talented prospects are also quick to discover that corporations that treat their employees well are often also the corporations creating the best products, the best customer experiences and have the best success stories due in great part to the talent they recruit and retain.
Recently, Indeed, the popular recruitment web site, surveyed users and noted that a corporation’s reputation had significant impact on job offer decisions and job seekers were influenced by employee reviews as they conducted their job search. It was also noted that job seekers were moving to another corporation with an excellent corporate reputation with minimal incentives to do so.
It is not a coincidence that the corporations, focused on employee satisfaction, are not only great places to work but they are considered to be the most respected corporations as well. They are corporations who set the bar for reputation building and are often on the “best places to work” and “most admired” lists created by Forbes, Fortune, Indeed, Working Mother, Crain’s and many others.
When building, strengthening or repairing the reputation of a world class corporation, leaders must first look within. Employees can make or break a corporation every day. Corporate leaders must recognize that their employees have the power to help build reputation and these same leaders must work hard to recognize and reward employee contributions. It is critical.
Janet Robinson is the former CEO of The New York Times Company; Chairwoman of the Presidential Board of Trustees of Salve Regina University and a trustee of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.