'Belief in business: state of the nation' 2019

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Flick on the TV, fire up Twitter or open a newspaper and it doesn’t take long to feel that so much around us appears to be broken

The Brexit process. Trump and fake news. Scandals. Riots. Environmental instability. It’s hard to escape the idea that somewhere, something has gone horribly wrong.

Events of the last few years have shaken our confidence in the future. Nearly half of us feel that, as a society, we’re simply going in the wrong direction and less than a third feel optimistic for the years ahead. Facing interminable upheaval, uncertainty and chaos in public and political life has left us pining for the past or some intangible, promised future.

Business hasn’t escaped this dearth of belief.

Tax scandals. Regulation breaches. Misuse of employees, the environment and data. Our tolerance of these misbehaviours has reached a breaking point. Our recent research, ‘Belief in business: state of the nation’, suggests increasingly damaging cynicism: Britons have the least belief in large, publicly-listed companies, with less than two out of five people believing that these businesses are positively contributing to creating a positive, prosperous and sustainable society.

While this lack of faith hasn’t seen us all take to the streets – yet – signs are we’re ready to make it count. Nearly three-fifths of Britons say they’ll remove their custom from a business they don’t believe in. Half of us wouldn’t work for them – a significant challenge in today’s competitive war on talent – nor would we invest in them or even take our money elsewhere.

This all adds up to there being a new currency for business in town: belief. We’ve entered a new era in which the definition for what a positive contribution means has changed. To capture support, companies now must play a role in creating a world we all want to live in.

There is good news: our research revealed five ‘belief triggers’ that help to build this kind of emotional investment. These drivers of belief go beyond offering good quality products, services and customer experience – now considered table stakes for any business. They are:

1. Creating a rewarding workplace for happy employees

2. Being open to questions and sharing information transparently

3. Committing to ongoing self-improvement and leaving behind a better society

4. Living and breathing a purpose that is deeply embedded throughout the business

5. And, finally, a willingness to accept short-term setbacks in the pursuit of long-term benefits

Businesses that commit to this new agenda are pushing at an open door. Four out of five among us think business is well-placed to lead in society. What’s more, two-thirds recognise that we believe in a business when we are moved by what it stands for, understand where it wants to go and can see how it will get there.

RY exists to help businesses capture this kind of belief. We’re a creative consultancy with a unique blend of business and strategic integrated services. We help clients deliver the best customer experience, products and services, while generating meaningful evidence and progress against each of the five ‘belief triggers’ . We’re experts in producing the experiences and conversations that resonate with audiences personally, through inspiring communications and content. Evidence times inspiration is the new formula for success in a changing world. As the agency helping to create a world that believes in business, we’re on hand. So let’s get started.

Watch this space for more details on how to spark belief in business, why it matters and how to capture it. This is it the first part of RY’s ‘Belief in business’ campaign. Further research findings and content will be released in the coming months – sign up here to receive the latest thinking direct to your inbox.