Your Small Business Reputation Is Scaring Away Your Best Workers

a group of people sitting around a conference table.

Don’t let a bad small business reputation stand between you and your team. 

We talk a lot about employment and jobs on this blog, and I natter on about these issues in the guest posts I write for other blogs. That’s no surprise, as a person’s job tends to define much about who that person is, at least in the eyes of others. When I go to a party, the question, “What’s your name?” is almost immediately followed by, “What do you do for a living?”

I might as well start answering the name question by attaching the word “blogger” to the end. It might save time.
But in addition to defining who we are, jobs also tend to take up a significant amount of our time. The American Time Use Survey for 2012, for example, suggests that the average American spends 8.8 hours of a standard day doing things related to work, while only 2.6 hours of that day are devoted to fun activities like reading. Work is what we spend the majority of our time doing, and it’s reasonable to focus on the aspect of life that dominates the days of our clients.

However, we also talk about work because the work we do is designed to help people clean up their reputations so they can get the jobs they want. Blogs like this one and this one are meant to help people see how their private actions can become public problems that could keep dream jobs from surfacing. Pointing these issues out is just part of the work we do during our 8.8 hours in the day, and it’s a valuable service for the 7.3 percent of people the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests were unemployed in October of 2013. These people need jobs, and reputation management could make that happen.

But this week, I’m going to focus on another part of the employment picture. Specifically, I’m going to talk about the need for companies to clean up their corporate reputations so they can recruit and retain the talented workers that can propel the company forward. If you’ve been resting on your laurels because you own a business and you don’t think you need to manage your reputation because you don’t need a job, this blog entry is made just for you.

But I’ll warn you; the information I’ll provide here about small business reputation might be a little scary.

Small Business Reputation: A Coming Crisis

An article produced by NPR suggests that employers will soon be facing a mass exodus of talented employees, as many top performers have just been waiting for the economy to improve in order to turn in their resignation letters. Some of these workers have also been enticed to take the leap to self-employment, as the Health Care Reform Act might allow them to obtain health insurance without the protection of an employer (as long as the website becomes functional sometime in the near future.)

In addition, as a writer for CBS MoneyWatch points out, many younger people are simply choosing to stay out of the workforce altogether. They’re moving back in with their parents, and they’re no longer looking for jobs of any sort.
Finally, some people are choosing to take unemployment as an opportunity, and they’re opening up their own businesses with new and strange goals. One woman in Oregon, for example, recently became a freelance cuddler, offering nonsexual snuggles to people for $60 an hour. (Don’t believe me? See the story here.)

Put these three little tidbits together and they suggest that employers might lose their experienced employees in the coming months, and that they won’t be able to rely on a deep pool of applicants to take the place of those who have left.

But there’s even more bad news ahead. A new study suggests that companies with a poor small business reputation might not get any applicants at all, and that their employees might choose to leave in order to hook up with someone more reputable.

The Study Results

This study was conducted by CR Magazine in September of this year, and the results are really striking. Here are a few choice tidbits:

  • A whopping 48 percent of respondents would decline a job from a company with a bad reputation when they were unemployed. Yup, they’d rather not have a job than to work for a company with bad cred.
  • More than 30 percent of respondents wouldn’t take a job with a company with a poor reputation even if dollars were on the line. If the company with the bad reputation offered them a pay increase, they’d still say no, regardless of the size of that pay hike.
  • More than 30 percent of respondents would need a pay bump of 50 percent or more if they were to consider a company with a poor reputation. Just accepting the job requires a cash infusion.
  • If a company with an excellent reputation were to offer a job to an employed person, 22 percent would accept a pay increase of just 1 percent to 10 percent. In other words, they’d accept almost no more money in order to work with someone who seems stellar.

Is your mind reeling yet?

These study results seem to suggest that applicants take the reputations of the companies they may or may not work for very seriously, and they make their employment decisions accordingly. If your company has a wobbly name, you really could face serious and alarming problems if you try to add staff.

Boosting the Numbers

Obviously, the best way to avoid these problems is to keep your company’s name out of the muck. It’s hard to build back up when a problem reaches crisis levels (just ask Barilla), so it’s best to ensure that no major missteps take place that could result in big headlines in the days that follow.

But sometimes, maintaining a reputation means more than just avoiding huge problems. In fact, there are many day-to-day things you could be doing that could have a huge impact on your company’s reputation.

Want to know how your small business reputation is doing? Take a gander at these questions, and answer honestly:

  1. How often do you monitor social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, looking for mentions of your company’s name?
  2. How often do you post blog entries, so that articles you write about your company float to the top of search results?
  3. How aggressive are you when you’re dealing with fraudulent online reviews?
  4. How quickly do you respond to a client request on social media?

These are just a few of the things you should be doing daily in order to monitor and amend your reputation online. If you’re not doing these things, it’s time to start. If you think you won’t have time, hire an expert to help you. Take a peek at those survey results one more time as a prompt, just to remind you of why it’s important. In no time at all, you’ll have a company that’s clean and reputable, and you’ll get those applicants you want.

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