Treating Employees Fairly Can Bolster Corporate Reputation

According to a new report, how an organization treats and pays its employees impacts its corporate reputation more than its stance on social or political issues – leading to an increased willingness to pay more for goods and services.1

This means employers should look inward, as well as outward, when looking to bolster their corporate reputation. There are simple steps that organizations can take right now to prioritize one of their most important, but often overlooked, audiences: their own employees.

The Importance of Employee Engagement 

Corporate reputation refers to how a company is perceived by its stakeholders. Many organizations focus on how they are perceived by external audiences, like clients, customers, and the public, but the internal employee audience is just as important. Bolstering positive relationships with your employees will drive engagement, encourage your employees to become validators and champions of your business, and help ensure they don’t turn to a third-party, like a union, to be heard.

Effective employee engagement is about more than a quarterly pizza party. Here are some ideas on how to bridge the gap between management and frontline employees:

  • If not already in place, establish an easy-to-access way for employees to submit feedback or conduct an employee engagement survey. Use that feedback to see where you need to improve, and then communicate to employees how you are addressing and, when appropriate, making changes to benefit them.
  • Create Employee Advisory Groups (EAGs) to give employees a voice in decision-making and empower them to use their ideas and creativity to contribute to improving the workplace.
  • Review competitive salaries for the same positions in your market and adjust salaries to best position you to recruit and retain the best employees. (After all, if your employees are dissatisfied enough to elect a union, studies show you can expect administrative, labor, and operational costs to increase by more than 25 percent of your payroll.)
  • Similarly, evaluate your benefits. Do your employees have unique needs and can you help support them by providing certain employer-sponsored benefits?
  • Provide your managers with leadership training so they know how to engage each employee and provide constructive feedback. Their day-to-day actions and relationships with employees have a significant effect on promoting a positive organizational culture.

When employees are engaged, both employees and employers benefit. For example, engaged employees are more likely to speak positively about the company, work with instead of against management (helping to dissuade union organizing), and provide more suggestions for operational improvements. And organizations can then reap the benefits of improved operational performance and better employee relations, which lead to enhanced corporate reputation.  

Be Strategic in Your Employee Communications 

A campaign to actively engage employees must be deployed with an effective employee communications strategy. Otherwise, how will your employees know about the changes you are making or the positive story you are telling? Consistent communications can help highlight the items employees prioritize in today’s workforce, like meaningful work, a positive work environment, and flexibility, to name a few.

When deploying your communications, make sure to follow these basic guidelines:

  • Create a cadence and maintain consistency, such as a regular newsletter or timely updates from leadership
  • Reach the right audiences at the right times (consider platforms, time zones, etc.)
  • Prioritize open-door policies and town halls where employees can share thoughts and concerns
  • Listen to what others are saying – be an active listener and use your learnings in future communications
  • Empathize and explain the “why” behind your reasonings – don’t just tell, show and explain!  
  • Be transparent as needed, but maintain boundary levels

It’s also important to remember that employee engagement is owned by both employees and leaders, so there must be mutual accountability. IRI Consultants is well-versed in leadership training and development that pairs with a strong culture of communications to ensure leaders have the knowledge, understanding, and tools they need to have a positive relationship with employees and help contribute to a healthy, dynamic work culture that all stakeholders are aware and proud of.  

At IRI, we help organizations increase employee engagement to develop positive employee relations and enhance company performance. We believe every business is different, and each requires its own holistic and customized approach to communications and employee engagement. Whether you need an internal communications or engagement assessment, guidance in developing your internal communications or engagement strategy or social media strategy, digital media intelligence, crisis communications services, media relations, or media training, we have expert communications and engagement consultants who can quickly provide a specialized solution. Contact us today to discuss next steps!

1This report was conducted by D.C.-based communications firm Narrative Strategies and surveyed 1,200 registered voters in September 2023.
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