Written by Miranda Drew • Published 27th November 2018 • 3 minute read

Facebook’s reputation has plummeted after being embroiled in a series of scandals, from fake news to data security.

In recent years, Facebook has become the ‘company du jour’, with the social media giant revered by the media and the tech industry alike. Not to mention its status as a ‘super unicorn’ – a software company with a valuation of greater than US$100 billion – and its unique ability to keep much of the developed world in thrall, boasting 2.27 billion monthly active users. Facebook seems a fundamental part of our daily lives, whether it’s using the platform to login to a third party app or to ‘check in’ at the airport before a trip – almost as crucial as checking in with the airline.

However, 2018 has seen an avalanche of negative press spanning the Cambridge Analytica scandal and founder Mark Zuckerberg refusing to appear at the UK Government’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, data leaks and ‘fake news’ fears. As a result, public opinion of Facebook has plunged. In the past three months, one million daily and monthly users have abandoned the platform in Europe alone.

A recent staff survey obtained by The Wall Street Journal shows employee opinion has dived just as quickly.

Approximately 29,000 staff responded to the latest of Facebook’s twice-annual ‘pulse’ survey, which revealed that just 53% of employees believe Facebook is making the world a better place, down from 72% last year.

Even more stark is the 32% drop in staff who felt optimistic about the company’s future, down from 84% in 2017 to just 52%.

While many people may have originally joined the company because of its global recognition, it seems this is no longer a long-term pull. Around 3,500 employees (12%) admitted they were likely to stay at the company for less than 12 months. Overall, staff said they plan to remain at Facebook for an average of 3.9 years, down from 4.3 years last year.

Facebook’s staff survey illustrates the relationship between negative press and staff morale – the two are inextricably linked. The slew of scandals that have dogged Zuckerberg & co. this year have sent employee enthusiasm on a nosedive.

It’s no secret that a strong brand is fundamental to a business’ success. Commercial operations or services aside, the logo, colours and even reputation create a lasting impression on consumers, encouraging positive word of mouth and repeat business or, in some cases, it has the opposite effect.

While the power of a brand identity on consumers is undeniable, the internal impact is rarely considered. Does a business’s reputation affect employees and their level of engagement? And if so, in what ways and to what extent?

Business leaders would be naïve to think staff are unaffected by a company’s reputation. In many instances, this may have been a factor in the decision to apply for or take up a role.

Facebook’s employee survey shows a negative reputation can be equally as damaging to staff as a positive one is empowering – if not more. With plans to employ thousands of new staff before the end of the year, it will be interesting to note how this affects recruitment at Facebook.

How a company manages public criticism of a business or brand can inspire employees to remain loyal and take up a position of defence – but handled in the wrong way, and employees can lose faith in their firm just as quickly as consumers.

Enthusiastic and engaged employees will be bolstered by positive press, with productivity, creativity, loyalty and longevity likely to improve. Conversely, if a corporation’s failings or flaws are made public, CEOs can expect internal confidence to drop, taking retention rates and outputs down with it.

Now more than ever, employees are looking to work for brands with ideals that align with their own personal values, and the brand advocacy from staff that ensures talent attraction and retention is invaluable. It goes without saying that to benefit from this, employees must be proud to work where they do.

It’s important to establish your business’ brand identity and ideals. Whether you’re starting out or starting over, at The PHA Group, we can help with building and maintaining a positive public reputation and brand. Get in touch with us today.