Corporate behaviour and workforce issues are ranked as issues of higher importance than the environment, government, economy, immigration and human rights, according to a new survey.
In a score out of 100, personal finance was ranked as the top issue, at 65.4 points, followed by health and safety at 61.7 points and then corporate behaviour, scoring 61.2 points. The topic ‘workforce’ came fourth, with a score of 56 out of 100.
When split into demographics, respondents earning over $200,000 ranked corporate behaviour as their first issue of importance, while those earning between $100,000 and $199,000 ranked it second and those earning under $100,000 ranked it third.
The results stem from the first Australian Business Purpose Study released by business consultants Shift. The survey questioned the issues that matter to 1200 Australian participants and also drew on research from the Corporate Reputation Study, prepared by research firm AMR.
The respondents were asked to rank the importance of 51 key statements across eight categories to unearth the most pertinent concerns in their lives.
Within the category of ‘corporate behaviour’, the most prominent issue was ‘companies looking after employees’, with 83% of respondents saying this mattered.
Companies behaving ethically was an issue of importance for 76% of respondents, and companies acting for the good of the country mattered to 74% of respondents.
The idea of companies ‘putting people and the planet before profits’ was listed by 73% as an issue they cared about, followed by ‘companies making a contribution to Australia’ at 71% and ‘companies who are seeking to address social issues’ at 62%.
The integrity of companies was found to influence whether or not respondents accepted employment offers with a business, and also influenced their buying decisions as a consumer.
Respondents were also asked to score out of 100 a number of Australian companies in terms of whether they had a clear reason for existing, their contribution to Australian society, putting people and the planet before profits and consistently delivering on promises.
Australia Post ranked highest, with 62.3 points, followed by JB Hi-Fi at 58.1 points, Toyota at 56.7 points and Good Guys at 56.5.
Shift managing director Iain Good told SmartCompany the results reflect that people are seeking more meaning from businesses, both as an employee and a consumer.
“As the population shifts and the medium age rises, people are working longer and looking to derive more meaning from their employment,” he says.
“Younger people, thanks to technology have learned about the world quicker and are looking to work at companies that more than simply focus on profit.”
He says Australian companies have been less promotional or less recognised for offering value for employees and the community beyond profits, compared to organisations in the US and Europe, such as Apple or Virgin.
“Now you find more CEOs talking about ‘purpose’,” he says.
He explains that by outlining ‘purpose’ of a company, employees and customers more readily relate to the vision.
He says another factor the results reflect is the blurring of work and home life, thanks to mobile communication around the clock.
Good explains that people are no longer leaving their personalities and personal life at the door of a company, nor do they switch off their work-life as much with family and friends. Thanks to social media, people at work can see home life, and family can gain a greater understanding of what the employee does in their work time, and can view the meaning behind the company they work for.
He says this means people want to work for a business that makes them proud, behaving with “dignity and class”.