By Claire West

A new study from the PRCA, in conjunction with Opinium Research, as part of its “Economics of Reputation” campaign, reveals that a company’s reputation is one of the top three most important factors for Britons when it comes to seeking new employment and deciding upon an organisation to work for.

While the salary offered and the level of stimulating work available rated the highest in importance when choosing an employer, a company’s reputation is the third most important factor among all Brits (33%). A company’s reputation is seen as more important than flexibility of work, benefits offered, culture, and the organisation’s location.

The study has found the importance of reputation increases with the age of employees, with 40% of 55-64 year olds and 36% of 45-54 year olds citing it as important, versus 26% of 18-44 year olds.

British workers are revealed to be sensitive to the repercussions of a negative company or industry reputation, with one in five (20%) admitting that they are or have been embarrassed to tell friends and family about the industry or organisation they work in, or have worked in. This workplace shame is more prevalent amongst men, almost quarter of whom (22%) say that they have been ashamed of the industry or organisation for which they work compared to one in five women (18%). The younger generation has also felt a greater share of workplace shame, with over a quarter of (28%) 25-34 year olds admitting to being embarrassed of the industry they work in, or have worked in.

Of those who feel ashamed of the organisation they work for, or have worked in, the most common reason is the substandard treatment of employees (35%), while one in five do so because they believe that it is not trustworthy (22%). Another area of concern is if an industry has a reputation for “ripping off” its customers through fees and charges — men seem to be more attuned to this (17% vs 8% of women). The impact of negative media coverage has a big influence too, cited by almost a fifth of these Brits (19%), while the pressure of political or legal scrutiny is felt by a further 14%.

While the technology sector is the industry which has the best reputation overall (67% of all Brits said it had a good reputation) 33% of those that are employed by the sector say they are embarrassed to work in it (one of the highest recorded). A greater number of public sector workers (24%) vs private sector (20%) and the third sector (5%) have been embarrassed among friends and family.

Tony Langham, Chairman of the PRCA’s PR Council, commented on the study:

“The reputation of an industry or an organisation is integral to those who work within it, and to some people it is crucial to who they are prepared to work for. Organisations with strong reputations are more able to recruit and retain the best talent and to get the most from their workforce. A positive workforce can also act as a powerful army of ambassadors for a company and individually help maintain and protect reputation.”