Navigating 2020: New Survey Reveals A Path Forward For U.S. Businesses In A Polarized, Political Climate

By: Danny Diaz

Election years can be especially challenging for businesses, particularly when politicians seek to make employers the issue on the campaign trail.  Heading into 2020, it’s clear that companies will need a strategy to navigate this increasingly divisive political climate in a way that does not alienate their customer base, while attracting and retaining top performers in a high-demand, tight-labor market.

To help guide a path forward, PLUS Communications and GS Strategy Group conducted a new survey, which finds that American customers believe companies must focus on taking care of and developing employees, rather than advancing politically-polarizing issue campaigns.

Our findings indicate that American companies should embrace and promote policies investing in higher wages and better benefits for their employees.  Smart companies can fulfill these goals, while boosting their own public perception, by focusing on the men and women within their own workforce. Policies focused on taking care of employees are not only a critical component of a successful business model, but also appeal to a wide swath of customers across the ideological spectrum.

According to our survey, two-thirds also believe that it’s impossible to make everyone happy and that companies should instead focus on running their businesses in a way that appeals to the broadest swath of Americans.  To that end, it makes sense that companies promote policies built on embracing our nation’s strong work ethic and expanding the American Dream.

Key Findings:

  • Customers are nearly twice as concerned about their economic future (58 percent) than how they are doing currently (31 percent); nearly half saying they think about their future situation very often (48 percent).
  • Overwhelmingly, customers believe the top corporate responsibility measure is employee benefits and wages.
  • But by a 56 to 7 percent margin, customers believe businesses prioritize profits over fair compensation for employees.
  • Not only do customers want companies to take action to prioritize employees, customers trust businesses to be more effective at ensuring their financial well-being than politicians.  By a 51 to 32 margin, Americans believe the business community will be more successful than Congress when it comes to addressing challenges, such as ensuring employees’ financial security.
  • Customers are tired of political correctness – 81 percent agree it has gone too far.

Strategic Takeaways:

  • Taking care of employees appeals to left-of-center customers.
  • Creating a sense of balance between concern for profit and concern for customers improves a company’s image.
  • Companies are strongest when seen as non-partisan.  The more they are viewed as neither aligned with the Republican nor Democratic parties, the better their image.

Our findings have been covered in a number of media outlets and you can click here to view the full poll results.


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