Have You Checked Your Glassdoor Lately?

The Rise and Importance of Employee Review Sites

Perception. To business, it’s everything. DSC_0161 (2)

You build a brand that’s consistent and compelling. To customers, your website and social media presence is flawless. Revenue is increasing exponentially. You’re doing something right, and you look great, until …

… an unhappy employee takes to the internet.

There are two sides to a successful company—internal and external. For longevity in your industry, you need to master both. Employees need to be just as happy as clients, or you risk decreased customer service and rapid turn-over, both of which affect the bottom dollar. Gauging customer satisfaction seems obvious. But how do you measure employee moral?

Enter Glassdoor, a website with 30 million unique visitors a month that allows employees and former employees to anonymously review companies and their management. Glassdoor’s tag line is “Get Hired. Love Your Job.” According to Forbes, it boasts a database of 11 million employee reviews of more than 486,000 businesses, and that number is growing. There are other websites and groups doing the same thing, but Glassdoor is currently the largest and most widely used.

Companies need to be aware of their reviews (good and bad), respond properly and be wiling to make changes. It’s impossible to deny that candidates, as well as current employees, are checking these sites. Their statistics are staggering and growing.

So, what does it mean for your business? There are both positive and negative aspects of such candidness in the workplace.

The Positives 

The ability to track employee satisfaction for free is perhaps the greatest positive of sites like Glassdoor. A subscription isn’t required to see the reviews, which allows leadership to essentially be a fly on the wall in the cubicles. With proper monitoring, a company can respond to complaints publicly, increasing the reach of the message. It’s no longer a closed-door meeting, where the details of the conversation have to pass from one person to another. It’s a townhall. You have the opportunity to shape the message, brand it correctly and diffuse the situation quickly.

The Negatives 

Despite these benefits, Forbes reports that “only 12 percent (61,000) of the companies listed on Glassdoor interact with the site.”

What is keeping businesses from utilizing such a useful tool? The extra time and coordination it takes to monitor the site is an obvious deterrent. And the necessity of a paid subscription is often misunderstood. In reality, there is no fee to set up an account that enables you to write a company profile and description, add photos and updates, respond to reviews and get basic information about viewers. Subscribers (paying anywhere from $6,000 to $100,000 a year) get more options, including job ads and detailed viewer demographics. These are merely benefits, not necessities.

The potential for disaster if negative employee reviews are ignored is, however, the biggest negative of sites like Glassdoor. R&R Business Consultants noted that the quality of job candidates and its ability to influence others is what differentiates Glassdoor from other recruiting channels, making it so powerful. They argued “businesses cannot afford to ignore the site, if they are to keep on-trend with the digitally influenced hiring process of today.” In the interview done by Forbes, the reporter states that candidates are often mentioning these reviews during the hiring process. Many managers will get an email saying, “I read a review on Glassdoor and decided to go in a different direction.”

How to Respond  

Appirio blogged about treating employees as customers. They summed up the appropriate approach by saying, “there’s no need to panic; organizations should not fear Glassdoor, but rather embrace it as part of a holistic approach to talent management.” They continue by saying that a company should designate a specific person to handle all reviews, giving a face to the message and providing consistency in delivery. The Harvard Business Journal enhanced that theory, adding that a 24/7 cross-functional marketing team, including key members of all departments, is the best approach to making sure the reply is timely and fact-based.

An article on Buffer Social, provides a six-step playbook on how to handle social media complaints. While these are geared towards the client experience, a lot can be applied to internal employee dissatisfaction. The blogger uses the acronym “FEARS” (which is a little intimidating, honestly) to breakdown his communication strategy: FEARS: F-find all mentions, E-empathy, A-answer publically, R-reply only twice and S-switch channels. This method can be universal and incredibly effective.

For a decade, the emphasis has been on customer review sites like Amazon, Yelp and Trip Advisor. (Hubspot has a very useful list of the top 19 review sites.) This is key, especially in a product-driven business, where client satisfaction is essential. But the internet is changing the landscape of hiring and maintaining staff, as well. Walls are becoming thinner, and businesses are expected to have a metaphorical glass door. Do not miss the importance of tracking employee satisfaction. It’s the fundamentals of good HR practice. Happy workers = happy customers.