Just when HR departments were finally getting to grips with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, a website which offers users a chance to anonymously voice their opinions on their workplaces and bosses threatens to pose a threat to the careful branding that companies have built up. Glassdoor is a free online community that encourages users to rate their employers on a scale of 1 to 5, adding honest comments about what it’s really like to work for them. There is even a chance to share salary details and questions they’ve been asked by the company during the interview process. Although the site originated in the US, a UK version is increasingly growing in popularity - Glassdoor reported that 150 million companies were featured globally and the website enjoyed 75 million page views per month. Given that consumers frequently rely on review sites before making an important purchase, or log onto Trip Advisor to check out reviews of hotels before they book a holiday, it’s no surprise that job seekers will read reviews of employers and seek inside information that a job description can’t offer.
Although social media usage is rising at a startling rate, passing opinions online about companies is technically nothing new. One of the former employers I worked for were less than impressed when a Google review appeared online citing their services as unhelpful, materialistic and fake. Because this scathing review was prominent every time someone entered the company name into the search engine, it posed a real headache to both the marketing and HR departments.
Although the thought of employees past and present along with disgruntled job seekers letting loose with their opinions online may sound like a nightmare to HR departments, the reality of Glassdoor and other similar sites is something that employers can work to their advantage. Here are 5 reasons why Glassdoor is not to be feared:
It won’t prevent reviews that are already happening
With the technological advancements of today, the demand for information has increased more than ever before and whether they like it or not, companies are already being reviewed by word of mouth. How many times have we asked a friend what they thought of working for a certain place, or mouthed off to someone about our job? Feedback is always going on, but never before has it been put so prominently in the public domain for all to see. However, the truth is, comments on Glassdoor may actually be more constructive than the rants employees have to friends.
Feedback is useful – good or bad
Good practice suggests that companies should encourage feedback - but why should it only be good feedback? Employers should take comfort from the fact that all comments submitted to Glassdoor are reviewed by the website moderators, which should take away the risk of any “rants” slipping through the system. Used in the right way, it’s possible that Glassdoor can be used as a free employee engagement survey to find out what people are really thinking. It’s undeniable that employee voice, especially on social media is extremely influential, but make sure it’s used in the right way.
It’s an opportunity for engagement
Instead of being concerned about what employees are saying behind their back, it’s more productive for employers to find out what they’re saying and deal with it. In my opinion, the best way to foster trust and engagement is to encourage open communication and dialogue with employees. By giving them a voice, employees will be more likely to feel able to come to their HR department with their concerns instead of ranting about them on an online forum.
It may weed out unsuitable candidates
It’s understandable that candidates would strive to find out everything they can about a company before accepting a job offer. If a candidate is put off accepting a job by what they read via anonymous comments online, that’s up to them. The phrase Don’t believe everything you read has never been more pertinent than here and if candidates cannot take negative comments with a “pinch of salt” and realise that there are two sides to every story, then that’s their issue. However, if they do see something which genuinely concerns them, it can save everyone’s time in the long run.
It’s a chance for employers to positively promote themselves
Why leave the online comments to the employees? Glassdoor gives employers the chance to create an Enhanced Employer profile where they can enhance their brand and promote their latest job listings. Any positive feedback will mount up to creating an online profile that will attract potential candidates – a showcase of why the company is so great.
Is Glassdoor the next big thing or a passing trend that will die out in a few months? Some firms have gone as far as to ban their employees from writing anything about them on Glassdoor. I don’t deny that as an HR professional, the idea of posting interview questions and salary details on a public forum for all to see poses concerns for me. However, if companies have a structured social media policy in place, there is no reason why Glassdoor can’t be used positively. Like most social media and technology trends, we can’t stop them from developing so if you can't beat them, join them.