Human Resources Today

Lately, I’ve seen a few people ask how to approach or build a “Glassdoor strategy” in 2019. If this is you, keep reading.

When it comes to your reputation as an employer, it can be hard to keep up with all of the online review sites. And, in a world where HR and Marketing want to control the message, these candidate-focused sites are outside your span of control. Candidates and employees are talking about you on sites like Quora and Reddit. They are leaving reviews on Google, Facebook, Comparably, Indeed, Kununu, InHerSight, FairyGodBoss, CareerBliss, Vault, and of course, Glassdoor.

Sometimes the ratings are to be celebrated. Some reviews may raise an executive’s eyebrow. And, some ratings and reviews can negatively impact your company’s reputation, your employer brand, and your ability to hire new employees and even retain customers.

In a Sciencedirect article entitled, “The candidate experience: Is it damaging your employer brand?”, Dr. Sandy Miles of Murray State University and Randy McCarney of Tarleton State University find that, “Negative postings negatively affect the employer brand, increasing the likelihood of derailing other applicants from applying for open positions. On the other hand, candidates posting a positive experience strengthens the organization’s employer brand in the marketplace and enhances the organization’s recruitment efforts.”

During my time as an in-house employer brand practitioner, I had many conversations with the talent acquisition teams about review sites. They often included sentiment around “candidates are asking us about our Glassdoor ratings; what should we say?” Or, “people are pulling out of the interview process because of what they read online. What can we do?” These are difficult conversations. They sting. They burn. They impact the business.

According to CareerArc, nearly 60% of candidates have had a poor candidate experience and 72% of them shared that experience either online or with someone directly. (<--click to tweet this!) Based on the Talent Board’s 2018 North American Candidate Experience Award research, 46% of candidates with a 1-star “poor” experience say they’ll sever the business relationship. This could mean never applying again, never referring anyone to your organization, or no longer remaining a customer of your business. Ultimately, the cost of a bad reputation for a company with 10,000 employees could be as much as $7.6 million in additional wages, says LinkedIn.

Do those numbers scare you?

If they don’t, if they feel too far away from home, then check out the Candidate Experience Resentment Calculator from our friends at the Talent Board. By simply entering your total number of annual hires, applicants per hire, and the average monetary value of a customer, they can help you project your annual number of rejected applicants and potential lost revenue. This is a tangible way to articulate the value of your employer brand, and the impact of your candidate experience on your reputation and bottomline.

Your candidate experience is a subset of your employer brand and impacts your consumer brand. The messaging, the interactions, and the experience candidates have need to align with who you are and what you stand for as an employer, and as a company. It’s the first entree into what it could be like to work inside your organization. Which is important. According to a study by CareerBuilder, 78% of candidates say the overall candidate experience they have is an indicator of how a company values its people. (<--Click to tweet this!)

So, what should you do when it comes to ratings and review sites? Here are some tips to think differently about them in 2019:

  • Realize that Glassdoor is not a strategy. It’s a channel, just like all the other ratings, reviews, social, and digital touchpoints where people can share their comments and information. As with all careers-related channels, we recommend pulling your employer brand creative and messaging through to the ratings and review sites. Engage people in a manner consistent with all other career channels.

  • Audit of all current ratings and review sites. Scour them to understand your external reputation in the marketplace. Keep track of the quantitative data, as well as the qualitative themes. Are you happy with the results? Or do they sting a bit?

  • Compare this data to what you are hearing internally. Does it align with your employee engagement surveys and focus group data? Are you getting the same data via your own candidate experience surveys? Does it jive with your new hire and exit surveys? Does it support some of the anecdotal data you’re hearing in the field and at corporate? Are you happy with the results? Or do they sting a bit?

Earlier in this post, I stated these candidate-focused sites are outside your span of control. Perhaps that is not entirely true. By understanding the internal pain points you can start to influence the external touch points.

In 2019, instead of concentrating your energy solely on Glassdoor, what if you focused your time on elevating your organization’s candidate experience? What if your team concerted more effort to improve the onboarding and employee experiences? I believe every HR and employer brand professional is uniquely positioned to make a difference in the lives of employees and candidates. (<--Click to tweet this!) And doing so is a much more vital component of employer brand effectiveness than any review site strategy.

You don’t need a Glassdoor strategy. You need a people strategy. As a CEO of a retail and manufacturing company once shared with us, “If you get the people and culture thing right, everything else falls into place.” It’s time to stop over indexing on what people say on the outside, and start strategically focusing on what’s going on inside.

When we transition our thinking, our budgets, and our time to who and what matters most (our employees), the external channels become like mirrors, reflecting the internal. People are going to talk. But, you can influence whether what they say is positive or negative. And, if you need help understanding what’s truly inside the hearts and minds of your employees, contact us. We’d love to help you!


If you liked this post, then you should read this one: Lessons in Employer Brand from Delta’s Customer Experience


Shannon Smedstad (@shannonsmedstad) is an Engagement Director and Principal Employer Brand Strategist for exaqueo, an employer brand experience firm building employer brands and the talent strategies that drive them through research, consulting, and creative and digital execution. Contact exaqueo to learn more about our employer brand innovation, workforce research, and recruitment strategy offerings.

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