A company's reputation is one of the top three most important factors for Britons when it comes to seeking new employment and deciding on an organisation to work for, according to a new study from the PRCA, in conjunction with Opinium Research. At the same time, one in five (20 percent) admit that they are or have been embarrassed to tell friends and family about the industry or organisation they work in.

The salary offered and the level of stimulating work available rated the highest in importance when choosing an employer, but a company's reputation is the third most important factor among all Brits (33 percent)—more important than flexibility of work, benefits offered, culture, and the organisation's location.

The study has found the importance of reputation increases with the age of employees, with 40 percent of 55-64 year olds and 36 percent of 45-54 year olds citing it as important, versus 26 percent of 18-44 year olds.

At the same time, British workers are revealed to be sensitive to the repercussions of a negative company or industry reputation, with one in five admitting that they are or have been embarrassed about their employer or industry. This workplace shame is more prevalent among men, almost a quarter of whom (22 percent) say that they have been ashamed of the industry or organisation for which they work compared to one in five women (18 percent).

The younger generation has also felt a greater degree of workplace shame, with over a quarter of (28 percent) 25-34 year olds admitting to being embarrassed of the industry they work in, or have worked in. 

Of those who feel ashamed of the organisation they work for, or have worked in, the most common reason is the substandard treatment of employees (35 percent), while one in five cite a lack of trustworthiness (22 percent). The impact of negative media coverage has a big influence too, cited by almost a fifth of these Brits (19 percent), while the pressure of political or legal scrutiny is felt by a further 14 percent.

Almost two-thirds of working Brits (64 percent) measure the reputation of their current employer as good, of which 23 percent state it is as being "very good." A greater number of public sector workers (14 percent) negatively rate the reputation of their current employer, compared to the private sector (8 percent) and the third sector (3 percent). Only half (52 percent) of those working in government said they believe their employer has a good reputation.

When asked to name companies that Brits associated with having a good reputation, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer came out top, followed by Virgin, Apple, Asda, Tesco and Waitrose. 

When it comes to ensuring and maintaining the reputation of an organisation, nearly two-thirds of Brits (63 percent) agree that it is the responsibility of all staff, although for over a quarter the onus is on the leader of the organisation (27 percent) or senior management (25 percent). One in seven (16 percent) think responsibility should lie with the marketing, communications or public relations teams and 11 percent believe it lies with the human resources team.