"I'd rather not work there": the development of employer reputation over the last 20 months

If a company wants to recruit sufficiently well-qualified personnel in times of a shortage of skilled workers, it must position itself and behave accordingly. After all, misconduct and false promises are quickly exposed these days. To stand out, there are numerous evaluations and awards by employees. But what does the population of potential employees actually think about their own brand? A representative brand tracking by Link provides information.

A positive perception among employees as well as the general public is important for a strong employer brand. (Symbol image: Pexels.com)

Being an attractive employer has always been important for attracting and retaining the best employees. But with the shortage of skilled workers in many industries, this issue has become even more important. If you work in an industry that is struggling with staffing problems or is generally struggling to recruit sought-after specialists, employer branding is particularly important.

Meanwhile, there are some providers that shed light on the issue with ratings or awards / labels by (former) employees. Providers such as Kununu or Great Place to Work give (former) employees a voice. But what does the general public actually think about various employers?

Employers are always brands as well. Sometimes they appear under the same name both as an employer and on the sales market as a corporate brand, such as Swiss Life or Freitag. Other suppliers have a more complex brand organization and are active on the market with family brands, for example Beiersdorf with Nivea or Eucerin, or subbrands - the Rivella Group with Rivella, Focuswater or Enertea by Rivella can be mentioned here.

Google No. 1 out of 120 brands

No matter what the brand strategy: One of the best awards is the most positive possible perception of a brand among the population. If a poor employer brand is added to any shortage of skilled workers, it becomes even more difficult to find qualified employees in the marketplace. A brand may be perceived as good or even excellent by its current or previous employees, but this does not necessarily mean that this image also (strongly) exists in the population.

For more than three years, YouGov's continuous brand tracking, the BrandIndex, has been measuring - among many other key figures - the (employer) reputation of 120 brands among the Swiss population. YouGov has been the parent company of the market research company Link since the end of 2021 and monitors thousands of brands worldwide with its BrandIndex. In Switzerland, more than 10,000 online interviews are collected per year and brand as a result, which include answers to the question of whether respondents would be proud to work for a particular brand or whether it would make them uncomfortable.

Around 30 brands from the 4 sectors of automobiles, banks/financial service providers, insurance/health insurance companies and online brands are currently being monitored. In both the full calendar year 2022 and the first two-thirds of 2023 (up to the end of August), Google is ranked first, followed by Mercedes-Benz, Raiffeisen, Audi and Mobiliar. Four automotive brands are represented in the top 7 with Porsche (rank 6) and BMW (rank 7).

In the case of Google, the younger the respondents, the higher the initial net score. To obtain this net score, those people who would be proud to work for this brand (positive) are offset against those who would be uncomfortable (negative) (positive - negative = net score). Recently, however, the ratings by the different age groups have converged. The very young (18- to 24-year-olds) give Google a significantly lower reputation in 2023, which is still ongoing, than they did at the beginning of 2022 and would accordingly no longer be quite so proud to work for the online giant. In this case, the poorer rating results from a decreasing proportion of positive ratings, with the negative proportion remaining consistently low at around 6 %.

Overall, other tech brands such as Instagram or Facebook also showed a decline among the young as of the end of 2022. However, the starting level of the latter two brands was already lower, which is why they were able to lose correspondingly less. Facebook remains the least popular social media brand for the under-25s (rank 120).

A look at other industries shows: While Mercedes Benz managed to hold on to second place out of 120 in both the calendar year 2022 and the first eight months of 2023, Raiffeisen Bank moved up three places in the same period and is now in third place. 18- to 24-year-olds express the most pride when it comes to working for the bank. The financial services provider that scores second best is Twint. In May reported m&k advertisingweek.ch already benefited from its excellent reputation. in the Swiss population. This is also reflected in its reputation as an employer. In the two-thirds annual ranking, the mobile payment provider is in eighth place, a position it already held in 2022. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, Twint is now in first place (rank 4 in 2022).

No surprises at the lower end of the scale

At the other end of the scale is Credit Suisse, which was recently completely taken over by UBS. The score of -28 for January to August 2023 is massively lower than in 2022 (-11). In the previous year, the outgoing big bank was still ranked 27th. UBS has also lost ground and is 24 places lower in the 2023 temporary ranking (January to August) than in 2022 (new ranking 101 with -0.4).

To classify these numbers: A score of 0 means that there are the same number of people who say they are proud as there are people who would be uncomfortable working at this brand. A score of -100 would mean that all respondents would be uncomfortable working at the former big bank, a score of +100 that all would be proud.

The situation at Uber is not rosy either: With its two brands Uber and Uber Eats, the service provider is represented twice in the Bottom 5, i.e. among the five brands that score worst in terms of employer reputation. With Twitter (new "X"), Facebook and Snapchat, three social media brands are also in the bottom ranks. And while Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Porsche and BMW are very well received, Dacia and Fiat are the two automotive brands respondents would be most uncomfortable working for.

Elon Musk and his brands: not crowd pleasers

A lot has happened at X, the former Twitter, in recent months: the takeover by Elon Musk, the dismissal of a large part of the workforce and thus thousands of people, various changes to the platform itself, including the introduction of the Twitter Blue subscription, and more. Twitter was accordingly hardly mentioned positively in the media. Besides Credit Suisse and Uber Eats, the social media platform is the only one of 120 brands to have a double-digit negative net score in (employer) reputation in the first eight months of 2023.

Musk's oldest "child" Tesla, on the other hand, experienced the biggest crash. In 2022, Tesla was increasingly in the headlines in a negative light, with thousands of electric cars having to be recalled several times due to hardware or software errors. While Tesla was still in 32nd place in the entire calendar year 2022 and clearly in positive reputation territory with just under 9 points, the brand has since fallen by more than 60 ranks and is now in 95th place with a net score of practically zero after the first two-thirds of 2023. At least the downward slide reached its temporary low point in February, and the reputation has since stabilized (so far) around +/-0.

Method profile

  • Population: Swiss resident population aged 18 to 79 years
  • Time series analysis: per month approx. n=850
  • Rankings: per year approx. n=10'400 interviews per brand, per 8 months (2023) pro rata
  • Confidence interval for total sample: max. +/- 1% (at 1 year).
  • Research method: online interviews
  • Quotation / weighting: interlocked by age, gender and region
  • Panel: YouGov Online Panel
  • Survey period: 01.01.2022 to 31.08.2023
  • Contact: Link Zurich, Matthias Biedermann (Research Consultant)



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