How to fight back against a bad reputation


A bad reputation hits a company right where it hurts. Besides a negative verdict in the court of public opinion, recruitment gets tough as well. And not just tough – expensive

Companies like Monsanto, BP, Volkswagen or BHP Billiton will still find candidates to fill open positions, but these new employees come with significantly higher price tags. One survey conducted by Corporate Responsibility magazine, in conjunction with global recruitment firm Alexander Mann, found that nearly half of respondents would work for an organisation with a bad reputation only if there was a corresponding pay rise of 50 per cent.

The study, conducted over the course of three years, also found that these trends hold true even for unemployed individuals: 76 per cent of people were unlikely to accept a job offer from a company with a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed.

What are the implications for recruitment strategies? No one wants to have to pay a premium to get candidates through the door. Here are some ways your search is impacted and what you can do about it.  

Find out where your reputation stands.

A recent LinkedIn survey found that the top three factors that contribute to a negative workplace reputation are concerns about job security, dysfunctional teams and poor leadership. Good reputations are associated with stability, opportunities for career growth and great workplace relationships.

If you find you are hitting a wall when it comes to recruitment, it might be time to step back and see what keeps people from taking an offer, or even considering your company in the first place. After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP conducted surveys to see how people felt about working for the company. Doing so allowed them to not only gauge interest in open positions, but it also gave insight into what potential candidates were worried about, making it easier for the company to address common concerns such as career progression and culture fit from the start.

Use social media.

Social media platforms, rating websites such as Glassdoor, and the internet in general make it harder to shake a bad reputation, says Ben Watts, a director at WattsNext HR consultancy. “There are potential candidates that won’t even apply for a job because they do research on a company beforehand and see that it has a bad reputation.”

Watts suggests that rather than fight social media, recruiters should use it to their advantage. “Use different platforms to engage with different audiences you are trying to reach,” he says. “Show what makes your company a great place to work on social media – the benefits you offer, who your people are – all that will help make recruitment easier.” This is also a great way to involve current employees and get some positive testimonials out in the ether.

Focus on CSR initiatives.

More than 70 per cent of respondents to the Corporate Responsibility magazine survey said it was important for them to work at a company with sustainability and responsibility as core values. The behaviours considered most harmful to a company’s culture and reputation are criminal acts, environmental scandal, workplace discrimination and failure to recall defective products.

As baby boomers make their exit and millennials start to dominate the workforce, companies need to be aware that incoming generations are more mindful of misconduct. The majority of young employees want to work for a company that does good, says youth advocate Holly Ransom. Watts agrees, and says that Gen Z and millennials are more interested in the company reputation and brand than previous generations.

Corporate philanthropy, volunteer leave and CSR efforts all have an impact on employer brand, and consequently recruitment. It’s best when the call to action comes from the top, so work to get executive buy-in for any initiatives . Then, create policies that not only make it possible for employees and leaders to participate, but actively promote this behaviour within the company and the community.

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How to fight back against a bad reputation


A bad reputation hits a company right where it hurts. Besides a negative verdict in the court of public opinion, recruitment gets tough as well. And not just tough – expensive

Companies like Monsanto, BP, Volkswagen or BHP Billiton will still find candidates to fill open positions, but these new employees come with significantly higher price tags. One survey conducted by Corporate Responsibility magazine, in conjunction with global recruitment firm Alexander Mann, found that nearly half of respondents would work for an organisation with a bad reputation only if there was a corresponding pay rise of 50 per cent.

The study, conducted over the course of three years, also found that these trends hold true even for unemployed individuals: 76 per cent of people were unlikely to accept a job offer from a company with a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed.

What are the implications for recruitment strategies? No one wants to have to pay a premium to get candidates through the door. Here are some ways your search is impacted and what you can do about it.  

Find out where your reputation stands.

A recent LinkedIn survey found that the top three factors that contribute to a negative workplace reputation are concerns about job security, dysfunctional teams and poor leadership. Good reputations are associated with stability, opportunities for career growth and great workplace relationships.

If you find you are hitting a wall when it comes to recruitment, it might be time to step back and see what keeps people from taking an offer, or even considering your company in the first place. After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP conducted surveys to see how people felt about working for the company. Doing so allowed them to not only gauge interest in open positions, but it also gave insight into what potential candidates were worried about, making it easier for the company to address common concerns such as career progression and culture fit from the start.

Use social media.

Social media platforms, rating websites such as Glassdoor, and the internet in general make it harder to shake a bad reputation, says Ben Watts, a director at WattsNext HR consultancy. “There are potential candidates that won’t even apply for a job because they do research on a company beforehand and see that it has a bad reputation.”

Watts suggests that rather than fight social media, recruiters should use it to their advantage. “Use different platforms to engage with different audiences you are trying to reach,” he says. “Show what makes your company a great place to work on social media – the benefits you offer, who your people are – all that will help make recruitment easier.” This is also a great way to involve current employees and get some positive testimonials out in the ether.

Focus on CSR initiatives.

More than 70 per cent of respondents to the Corporate Responsibility magazine survey said it was important for them to work at a company with sustainability and responsibility as core values. The behaviours considered most harmful to a company’s culture and reputation are criminal acts, environmental scandal, workplace discrimination and failure to recall defective products.

As baby boomers make their exit and millennials start to dominate the workforce, companies need to be aware that incoming generations are more mindful of misconduct. The majority of young employees want to work for a company that does good, says youth advocate Holly Ransom. Watts agrees, and says that Gen Z and millennials are more interested in the company reputation and brand than previous generations.

Corporate philanthropy, volunteer leave and CSR efforts all have an impact on employer brand, and consequently recruitment. It’s best when the call to action comes from the top, so work to get executive buy-in for any initiatives . Then, create policies that not only make it possible for employees and leaders to participate, but actively promote this behaviour within the company and the community.

Leave a reply

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More on HRM