UK business owners place reputation ahead of employees

86% of business owners agree that reputation management is more of a priority than employee development, according to new data released today

UK firms prioritise reputation management over employee development, according to recent research released today from Speakers’ Corner, the UK’s leading speaking bureau. Over 500 business owners from across the UK were surveyed and the results show that consumer perception is ranked more important than employee development or diversity. 1

Key findings from the study include:

  • 98% of business owners surveyed, face challenges with reputation control.
  • 86% agree that reputation management is more of a priority than employee development and staff training.
  • 87% view reputation management as more of a priority than diversity across their business.

In addition, the survey results found that business owners highlighted the consequences that poor reputation has had on their company in the past – with a third suffering negative media coverage and 32% experiencing either investment withdrawal or a negative impact on profits. Almost two-fifths (37%) reported that the biggest hinderance to reputation management is the lack of having a person in their business directly responsible for this area.

Nick Gold, Managing Director of Speakers’ Corner, explained; “Our study paints a fascinating picture. The data indicates a wide-spread adoption of reactive and ‘short-term’ thinking in UK leadership teams in a post pandemic Britain. It seems that the spotlight of attention has shifted from employees to protecting and focusing on reputation management.

“So whilst many leadership teams pay lip service to staff training and development, the reality is something different. Yet as business owners we inherently know that investing in employees, offering valuable opportunities for growth and development, and embracing diversity and inclusion can in fact boost an organisation’s reputation. This will ultimately have a positive impact on a company and its bottom line. It’s important to remember that employees can in fact be your biggest brand advocates and protectors of your company’s reputation.”

Furthermore, the advent of social media has increased the speed at which news travels, and this is proving to be a major test for UK businesses as they scramble to protect reputation. Thirty five percent of businesses surveyed highlighted this as the main challenge to reputation control. “Social media is an invaluable tool for firms, as it gives the opportunity for brands to enhance their visibility and engage directly with target audiences,” said Mr Gold. He added; “But there is an art to this. If we look to moguls such as Salesforce, Starbucks, Adobe and Google, these companies heavily invest in employee growth and development. Some have even introduced ambassador programs to encourage and incentivise employee advocacy, particularly on social media.”