Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Google's employee perks – from providing "nap pods" for a quick break during the day to allowing engineers to spend 20 per cent of their work time on side projects that may spark new ideas – have given the Internet leader the best reputation in corporate America, according to a new study.
On the other hand, there has been a tumble in the popularity of the United States airline industry, which has cut employee pay while raising prices and tacking on fees for once- free services like meals and checked bags, the annual Harris Interactive Reputation Quotient poll finds.
Largely for its reputation for treating workers well, Google claimed the No 1 spot from Microsoft, which fell to 10th place.
"The ratings they get focus on how they treat their employees, their workplace environment," Robert Fronk, senior vice-president at Harris in New York, said. "They absolutely get tremendous credit for the social responsibility, which for them is also linked with their vision and leadership."
Google's mantra is "don't be evil".
The airline industry suffered from a perception of treating both the public and its employees poorly, Mr Fronk said. The percentage of respondents whose rating toward it was favourable fell to 26 per cent from 31 per cent last year, the sharpest drop of any of the 11 industries counted.
The bulk of the list is consumer products firms and tech companies, with women more likely to nominate the former and men the latter.
Rounding out the top 10, from second to ninth, were healthcare company Johnson & Johnson, chipmaker Intel, food companies General Mills and Kraft Foods, Warren Buffet's investment and insurance enterprise Berkshire Hathaway, diversified manufacturer 3M, soft-drink giant Coca-Cola and Japanese automaker Honda.
Financial services companies make up a relatively small piece of the list, with just Wells Fargo & Co, closely held State Farm Insurance, Allstate and Bank of America representing the sector.
"We have never found the investment banks to really be top of mind among the general public," Mr Fronk said.
Reputation was important in all sectors, he noted, with respondents saying they were more likely to buy products from, invest in or welcome into their communities, companies that they viewed favourably.
The five companies with the worst reputations, according to the study, were oilfield services company Halliburton, Venezuela-owned oil company Citgo, Northwest Airlines, oil giant Exxon Mobil and top US cable company Comcast.
Overall, the survey found that 51 per cent of respondents believed corporate America's reputation had deteriorated, while 11 per cent said it had improved.