Jun 1, 2023 - Economy

Brands benefit from strong corporate cultures, Axios Harris 100 Poll finds

Axios Harris poll culture rankings for select companies
Data: Axios Harris Poll; Chart: Axios Visuals

A company's employer brand — the way its culture and employee experience is perceived — has a major impact on its overall reputation, according to this year's Axios Harris Poll 100 ranking.

Why it matters: Consumers increasingly care about the internal workings of a company and favor those that are ethical, exhibit good citizenship and have a strong company culture.

How it works: The Harris Poll surveyed over 16,000 Americans to identify the 100 most visible brands. These brands were then rated based on business trajectory, character and trust to calculate the company’s Reputational Quotient score for inclusion in the Axios Harris Poll 100.

  • Corporate character was evaluated based on how those surveyed perceived a brand's culture, ethics and citizenship.

Zoom in: The companies with the best culture — Patagonia, Costco, John Deere — also make up the highest rated overall.

  • Other top-scoring brands include USAA, Samsung, Honda Motor Company, Chick-fil-A, Trader Joe's, Apple and Microsoft.

Be smart: The one thing these brands have in common is their commitment to uniting employees around the company's mission and values.

  • Costco founder James Sinegal has prioritized corporate culture from day one, saying that "culture isn’t the most important thing — it’s the only thing." According to an MIT report, "Seventy cents of every dollar spent by Costco goes to employee wages and the company has a 7 percent turnover rate, compared to 60 to 70 percent at other retailers."
  • John Deere has prioritized community engagement and implemented an active employee resource group (ERG) strategy.
  • Patagonia makes it a priority to hire like-minded employees who will thrive within its corporate setting. "When you establish values as a business and your employees care about your mission, everyone works harder," Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard said in a recent McKinsey report.

Yes, but: This sort of alignment is rare. Just 2 in 10 employees feel connected to their company’s culture, according to Gallup.

Between the lines: The COVID-19 pandemic and the societal reckoning following the murder of George Floyd in 2020 amplified the need for strong internal communication, and since then corporate culture has been on the rise, according to the Harris Poll data.

What they're saying: What's good for employees is also good for the business, says Integral CEO Ethan McCarty.

  • "Our research shows that employees who see their own values reflected in their employer's are more than twice as likely to go the extra mile for a client or colleague, advocate for their employer on social media, and stick with the company when it hits a crisis."

The bottom line: Having a strong corporate culture leads to a happier, more productive workforce, attracts and retains talent and generates trust and loyalty among consumers.

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