17 December 2020
Latest ‘Everybody’s Business’ Reputation Tracker from CBI/Porter Novelli/Opinium reveals that at the end of 2020, the majority of the public (54%) think business handled the pandemic well as they put themselves at the service of the nation
- 54% of people believe business reputation is positive, with just 9% saying it is poor.
- Almost 3 in 4 workers (73%) say their relationship with their employer is positive, with good staff communication and feeling well supported by employers being the key drivers of a favourable attitude.
- Employees are looking for firms to do more to support their mental health. Less than half of staff (42%) say their employer has done a good job in supporting their mental health and wellbeing.
- Despite the positive picture overall, there continues to be nearly a third of people (30%) that view business reputation as neither good nor poor, indicating an “undecided middle” for businesses to engage with and communicate the positive difference they make to people’s lives.
After a year of unprecedented challenges, the public recognise the efforts put in by businesses to tackle the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest Everyone’s Business reputation tracker.
In an earlier temperature check, carried out in May, nearly half of respondents (49%) identified the role of businesses in joining the national effort against COVID-19 as a key area where firms had stepped up for the nation. For the period May to November, supporting customers was most cited (45%) – corresponding with the gradual re-opening of the economy seen during that period.
But with around a third of the public still viewing business reputation and private sector efforts around the pandemic as neither good nor poor (30% and 29% respectively), scope remains for the business community to amplify its voice regarding how it contributes positively to society.
Encouragingly, despite some fluctuation between January and November, employee sentiment towards employers closed the year on a high. Even in the face of such a challenging year for employees and businesses alike, most people say their relationship with their employers is positive (73%).
Nearly two-thirds of the public believe businesses have supported employees well throughout the pandemic with safeguards for employee safety (62%) and support for remote working (63%).
Commenting on the research, Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:
“In the face of unprecedented challenges brought on by COVID-19, companies from all corners of the UK stepped up to support the national effort against coronavirus as well as their employees, customers and communities. Firms placed themselves at the service of the nation and proved once again why they’re a force for good.
“Whether it’s Ventilator Challenge UK producing thousands of critical pieces of kit for the NHS, Lindhurst Engineering getting PPE to frontline workers or Business in the Community mobilising firms to support local communities through the National Business Response Network - 2020 has seen strong partnerships, public and private, deliver enormous benefit for wider society.
“Employers know events this year have created intense challenges for staff in all aspects of their lives. It’s heartening to see increased efforts to engage and support employees are being both noticed and appreciated. But, at the same time, it’s clear that there’s more to be done – particularly on mental health.
“For firms focusing on commercial survival, the bread and butter of business - good employee-employer relationships, good customer service and quality products and services - will help define their reputation as we emerge from the pandemic. Companies with capacity to lead on the UK’s ambitions to build back better should look at how they can go further, especially on accelerating progress towards net zero.
“Ongoing government-business collaboration will be key to make 2021 a period of growth - 76% of UK adults say it’s important for the government to use business insight when creating policy related to the economy.”
Anna Flower, Director of Reputation Management at Porter Novelli London, said:
“This tracker illustrates that the businesses that will thrive post-pandemic are those that have took a human-first approach when it comes to employee engagement. This doesn’t mean that leaders can avoid tough decisions, but it does illustrate the power of transparency within communications, explaining the strategy behind decisions
that are being made to minimise uncertainty, the impact on employee’s health and wellbeing and ensuring that we are taking into account the recent “merging” of work and personal lives.”
Adam Wilson, Associate Director at Opinium, added:
“At a time where many businesses have felt the brunt of a turbulent year, it is reassuring to see that they have not neglected the 'softer side' of their relationship with the public. In the media we’ve seen stories of businesses small and large giving back to local communities during the pandemic. We see this reflected in our findings with the general public feeling being that business have stepped up in an hour of need to support not only their customers and employees, but the wider national effort too.”