Current employees, disgruntled former employees, even job candidates who were not hired can go online to Glassdoor.com and anonymously post anything they feel like saying about your organization.
And they are. Glassdoor is now bigger than CareerBuilder, and it’s the fastest-growing career site.
A year ago, most CEOs I spoke with didn’t seem to know or care about Glassdoor. But now more than half of the CEOs I speak with mention their Glassdoor reviews in our first meeting. They are all suffering from a case of sudden onset “Glassdoor angst” — the kind of public accountability that makes most CEOs profoundly uncomfortable.
Before every meeting with a new client company, I look at their Glassdoor reviews. When you ignore the outlier comments and focus on trends, the reviews telegraph organizational issues with astonishing accuracy.
The work of the CEO involves subtle and complex human interactions like organizational restructuring, breaking down barriers between departments, coaching managers who have staffing and turnover problems, raising the caliber of people being hired and focusing organizational energy in new areas.
This work is difficult enough in private. But now the CEO is graded, by strangers, in public view.
Knowing your brand
In the modern job market, your prospective future employees are making decisions based on information provided by strangers — think of it as the “ Amazonification of recruiting.”
The narrative about your organization is no longer under the control of the communications department – your reputation is formed on Glassdoor. As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Case in point: This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer shows that people are far more likely to trust anonymous reviewers than company CEOs.
So now that you have your diagnosis, what can you do?
Glassdoor has some wonderful resources for employers to respond to specific complaints, which I highly recommend – here are some articles with advice on how to respond authentically to Glassdoor reviews. But that’s just superficial, short-term damage control.
Seeing the real solution
If you have bad reviews, the real solution is to address the underlying issues. We’ve reached the tipping point — organizations must rethink the role HR plays in their organization. The need for public reputation management dramatically increases the demand for strategic HR professionals: people who can work within social media channels to mitigate bad reviews, as well as propose and execute solutions that address the issues underlying bad Glassdoor reviews.
When the real issues are addressed, employees don’t become disgruntled, candidates don’t vent their frustrations and fewer people say bad things about the organization. A good barometer is that if the worst recent review on Glassdoor is, “wish they had better coffee in the breakroom,” that organization is on the right track. (Yes, that’s a legitimate complaint I found.)
Like it or not, HR must become one of the most strategic parts of an organization, with higher risks for failure and greater rewards for success. Soon enough, every ill-conceived program, poorly handled issue or failure in leadership will make its way onto Glassdoor and Google.
Are you prepared to respond when it does?
For more on this topic, read How Employer Reputation Affects Senior Executive Careers, or download our Viewpoint Document on The Glassdoor Impact.