Sometimes you get some interesting pieces to a puzzle; and only months later as more pieces arrive do you start to see how they may be fitting together.
Let’s try putting a couple of pieces together on the topic of business reputation in the United States, thanks in large measure to data generated from the often insightful Pew Research Center.
First, let’s start with the sobering finding that public regard for business corporations has been in a downright plummet… from 73% of Americans favorable in 2000 to 45% favorable in late 2005. How low is 45%? Well, in 20 years of data collection, it’s never before dropped even as low as 50/50. Here’s a link to the Pew Research Center report.
Now, let’s mix in a broader finding from reputation research. This finding is that a large portion of the public regard for a company can be traced to the public perception of how that company treats its own employees. Although I’ve seen this regularly confirmed in proprietary research over the years, I don’t have a ready link to a publicly-available study. (I’d be happy for any comments that might remedy that.)
Now for the linkage. Pew has new research about workers in America that shows a profound shift in the levels of loyalty between employers and employees. According to Pew, “By a margin of 56% to 6%, Americans say employers are less, rather than more, loyal to workers now than they were a generation ago… By a similar margin of 51% to 8%, the public says workers show less, rather than more loyalty, to their employers now than they did a generation ago.” Here’s the link to that research.
So, to summarize:
Unprecedented drop in the underlying loyalty between employees and employers.
Unprecedented drop in public favorability towards business corporations.
I think not.
Causality is tougher to prove. But this potential link does raise a couple important questions, given the pressures of today’s business environment:
1) can the sense of loyalty ever be restored between companies and their employees, generally recognized as one of their most valued assets?
2) if the answer to 1) is “no”, is there anything in the relationship between employer and employees that is powerful enough to substitute for loyalty – purpose, personal challenge, intellectual growth, etc?
(Posted by Ray Jordan)