The Williamson Difference: HR Answers That Work

The News Is Part Of Your Employment Brand

August 13, 2019

By Sharlyn Lauby

I ran across an interesting article in The Manifest titled, “How Do Employees Act When Faced with Unethical Company Behavior?” The article talks about how candidates want to work for companies with ethics and will choose not to accept offers of higher pay at companies with a history of unethical behavior. I’m not sure this is a surprise. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

What I did find interesting was that 79 percent of employees will not accept a job with a higher salary from a company that failed to act against employees who were involved in sexual harassment. We know that harassing work cultures inflict damage on a company’s workers and its bottom line. In addition, there are times when employees who report workplace sexual harassment are at risk for social isolation, retaliation, anxiety, and depression. Despite these hardships, most employees feel a need to act against unethical behavior that directly impacts them or coworkers.

In addition, employees will not consider accepting a raise from a company if they find the company selling or using customer data without consent (76 percent), creating environmental problems (72 percent), and paying female and minority employees less than others (71 percent). 

Finally, The Manifest article said that when employees decide whether to accept a raise, they are most likely to tolerate companies that give political donations to candidates they personally dislike (54 percent). Overall, it appeared from the study that employees are more likely to tolerate disagreeable company behaviors that are driven by politics or economics, instead of ones that directly impact coworkers or them.

My takeaway from the article is that the company’s employment brand is influenced by all of these things: harassment in the workplace, employee retaliation, data security, sustainability, equality and yes, even politics. Where do we hear about these topics? Yep, in the news.

What the media says about our organizations' matter. If they say the company is a respected employer, people hear that. And when the media reports that unethical behavior was pervasive within the leadership team, they hear that too. Obviously, the way to impact the news about your organization is to do good things for all of the right reasons. Remember the PESO Model (paid, earned, shared, and owned media). This is a clear example of earned media. Organizations need to have an earned media strategy. Because it matters.

This article was enlightening both in terms of the behaviors that employees will (and will not) tolerate as well as the reminder of how the news can impact a company’s brand. Organizations can’t simply assume their own brand messaging is sufficient. Employees are looking for resources like former and current employees AND the media to get confirmation that what a company is saying about themselves is accurate.


Sharlyn Lauby is the author of HR Bartender, a friendly place to discuss workplace issues. When not tending bar, she is president of ITM Group Inc., which specializes in training solutions to help clients retain and engage talent. She can be contacted on Twitter at @HRBartender.

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