Young people and Brexit could be the underlying reasons for an improvement in the reputation of business in the UK, according to research from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
The survey found that 65% of people believe that British business is good, up 5% since July last year. Sixty-nine percent said that chief executives were out of touch with people’s lives.
Fenella Grey, managing director of Porter Novelli , the PR company that helped conduct the research, said: “There are a number of genuinely surprising results that go against expectations.
“The fact that the reputation of business has improved over the past months despite a backdrop of uncertainty caused by Brexit and slowing economic growth is really positive news for the UK. It shows ‘UK plc’ is alive and kicking, and remains an important place to do business.
“What is really unexpected is that this positive shift in opinion occurred amongst millennials who in reality have the greatest number of reasons to be unhappy, as they will be working with an uncertainty created by a Brexit the majority of them didn’t want.
“Over the last six months this tracker has revealed an interesting change in what drives people to think positively about business, and it’s all about people. Businesses need to see that the better you regard your employees, the better the public regard you.”
Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general, said Brexit had help focus debate on the role of business in society in “providing jobs, paying taxes and making the goods and services we all need.”
He added: “But business can do more to step up their engagement with employees and customers, to explain how they are making a positive difference in their communities and workplaces.
“[Businesses] must redouble their efforts to show that the horror stories of tax avoidance, poor employment practices and excessive pay are the exception not the rule.
“Treating employees well is the best place to start. Our findings show that companies which look after their employees will be rewarded by the public, who say this is the best way to improve their views about business.”
The survey was produced in partnership between the CBI, Porter Novelli and researchers Opinium.
Other results include:
- 67% of those surveyed report a positive relationship with their employers (+3%);
- 50% understand how a company works (+2%);
- 31% said that they know little about what businesses actually do (-7%); and
- 69% said treating employees well is the best way to improve the reputation of business (+9%).