6 signs of a bad business reputation (and what to do about it) in summary:

  • A bad business reputation can be kryptonite for businesses; affecting everything from recruitment strategies to loss of customer confidence.
  • HR must be able to identify the signs of a bad business reputation, which include a decline in sales and revenues, higher employee turnover and less than favourable online reviews.
  • Transforming a poor business image can be done by nurturing company cultures, employee advocacy.

Let’s face it, in today’s job market, the tables have turned.

Top talent is picky, and a bad company reputation can leave you struggling to fill open positions all while watching employee turnover grow.

For HR professionals, a tarnished company image isn’t just about a few missed hires – it can cripple your entire HR strategy.

6 signs of a bad business reputation Cezanne blog

HR professionals: here’s why your company’s reputation matters

We don’t have to tell you that attracting and retaining top performers is more crucial than ever. But what exactly draws these high-calibre individuals to a company? It’s not just about the salary and benefits package (although those are important!).

Increasingly, talented professionals are looking for a place where they can feel valued, engaged, and excited to come to work every day. This is where your company’s reputation steps in.

Think of your reputation as the comprehensive story of your company. It’s pieced together from every customer interaction, employee experience, and online review. It’s the whispers in the hallways of the recruiting world, the social media posts from customers and employees, and the honest testimonials on job boards and review sites. In short, it’s the sum of all the voices that paint a picture of what interacting with your organization is really like.

Now, imagine the kind of impact a positive business reputation can have. Instead of spending countless resources and hours sifting through applications, you could have a steady stream of talented individuals seeking you out, eager to contribute their skills and ideas to your company’s mission.

According to ReputationX, 92% of people would consider leaving their current jobs if offered another role with a company that had an excellent corporate reputation. So, a good reputation translates into a more efficient hiring process, a stronger talent pool to choose from, and ultimately, a more successful and innovative organization.

Red flags: when your company needs a reputation makeover

But what happens when the narrative shifts, and negative stories start circulating? For HR, this can be a double-edged sword. While the root cause of the issue might lie outside your direct control (think customer service or product quality), a damaged employer brand directly impacts recruitment and retention.

Here are some potential warning signs of a bad business reputation to look out for:

  • Customer retention slipping. A consistent drop in repeat business can be a sign of deeper issues. Are there concerns about product quality, or is customer service lagging? Unhappy customers are essentially walking billboards for your company’s shortcomings. Addressing these issues head-on can not only improve customer satisfaction but also project a more positive image to potential employees.
  • Sales and revenue on the decline. A steady decline in revenue often has a connection to a company’s reputation. Are customers choosing your competitors, or is negative word-of-mouth discouraging new business?
  • Employee turnover rising. High employee turnover is a glaring signal that something might be amiss within the company culture. Dissatisfied employees, after all, have first-hand experience, and their negative experiences can spread quickly online through reviews and social media.
  • Talent pool drying up. Struggling to attract qualified candidates, or have a high number of applicants ghosting you during the interview process? A negative company reputation might be pushing them away.
  • Online outrage spreading. In today’s digital age, negative online reviews on platforms like Glassdoor or scathing social media comments can be a major turn-off for potential hires. Developing a strategy to address negative feedback online and proactively showcasing your company culture through positive testimonials can help mitigate the impact of online negativity.
  • Scandals and legal troubles. High-profile conflicts or cases, or even a general lack of transparency, can seriously damage your company’s credibility. Consumers, and potential employees, want to do business with companies they can trust.

HR as reputation champions: building a reputation that attracts top talent

Up to this point, we’ve painted a clear picture of how external factors can negatively impact a company’s reputation.

But what can you do to overcome these negative impacts? How can you in HR practically work to improve your company’s reputation?

We believe people professionals are uniquely positioned to turn the tide and help build a strong reputation and employer brand for the organisation. Remember, a happy and engaged workforce is your greatest asset. So, let’s start building a reputation that makes candidates excited to join your company, not the other way around!

Here’s how you can take charge and transform your company into a talent magnet:

1. Cultivate a great culture

A strong company culture isn’t just a buzzword – it’s the glue that binds a happy and productive workforce. Here’s how HR can be the architect of an “awesome culture” that attracts top talent:

  • Promote open communication: Create a space for open dialogue. Hold regular town hall meetings where employees can ask questions and voice concerns directly to leadership. Encourage open communication channels through anonymous feedback surveys or internal communication platforms where employees can share ideas and suggestions.
  • Empower decision-making: Employees who feel like they have a stake in the game are more invested in the company’s success. HR can champion initiatives that encourage employee participation in decision-making processes. This could involve creating employee committees for brainstorming new ideas, or allowing teams to have more autonomy over their projects.
  • Celebrate wins (big and small): Don’t wait for a groundbreaking innovation to celebrate success. Recognise and reward everyday wins that contribute to the company’s overall goals. This could be anything from a team exceeding their sales quota to an employee going above and beyond to help a colleague. By acknowledging these achievements, you create a culture of appreciation and inspire continued excellence.
  • Transparency is key: Be upfront and honest with employees, even during challenging times. If the company is facing a setback, address it head-on through clear communication. Employees appreciate being kept in the loop, and transparency builds trust and fosters a sense of shared purpose.

2. Empower employee advocacy

Happy employees are more than just satisfied workers – they’re your most powerful brand ambassadors. Think about it: who would you trust more, a company’s carefully crafted marketing message, or a genuine review from a current employee on LinkedIn?

Make it easy for employees to become brand champions. Create a social media toolkit with pre-written content and eye-catching visuals that employees can share on their own networks. Host “Lunch and Learn” sessions to educate employees on the importance of employer branding and provide tips for crafting compelling online reviews.

3. Act collaboratively within your organisation

Collaboration is key. As mentioned earlier in this article, a poor company reputation isn’t always linked to the experiences of employees and can often actually sit outside of HR’s domain. If churn is high and sales are slumping, what can HR do about it?

Partnering with each respective department to bring your expertise to the table is always helpful. For example, you could discuss with your sales team on whether hiring plans need to change to bring in different expertise that could unlock new growth. Or, you could collaborate with the marketing and communications department to craft a more compelling narrative that showcases your company’s values to a new level.

4. Leverage technology for a better employee experience

HRIS technology isn’t just about automating tasks – it’s about creating a seamless and positive experience for your employees from day one. Think about it this way: a new hire’s first impression of your company starts with the onboarding process. Imagine the difference between wading through mountains of paperwork and using a user-friendly online portal.

Here’s how HR software can be your secret weapon:

  • Streamline onboarding: Ditch the paper chase and embrace technology to create a smooth and efficient onboarding process. Invest in onboarding software that allows new hires to complete paperwork electronically, access company resources, and connect with colleagues – all before their first day. This not only saves time but also reduces stress and anxiety for new hires, allowing them to hit the ground running from day one.
  • Boost communication and collaboration: Communication breakdowns are a recipe for frustration. Implement tools like instant messaging platforms or project management software that facilitate seamless communication between colleagues and departments. This fosters collaboration and ensures everyone is on the same page, leading to a more efficient and productive work environment.
  • Performance management redefined: Ditch the annual performance review and embrace a more continuous development approach. Invest in performance management software that facilitates regular check-ins, goal setting, and feedback sessions between employees and managers. This fosters a culture of ongoing learning and development, keeping employees engaged and motivated.
  • Learning and development on-demand: Empower employees to take charge of their own career development. Implement a Learning Management System (LMS) that provides access to a vast library of online courses, training materials, and webinars. This allows employees to learn new skills at their own pace, contributing to a more knowledgeable and adaptable workforce.

By prioritising these strategies, HR can become the driving force behind a positive company reputation that not only attracts top talent but also fuels business success.

Click here to read our latest report and discover why HRs place in the c-suite is in danger

Paul Bauer author image

Paul Bauer

Paul Bauer is the Head of Content at Cezanne HR. Based in the Utopia of Milton Keynes (his words, not ours!) he’s worked within the employee benefits, engagement and HR sectors for over four years. He's also earned multiple industry awards for his work - including a coveted Roses Creative Award.

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