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If you were like me up to about 3 months ago you may have been aware of this new thing called Glassdoor, but not really sure what it was all about.

A few seminars later and I feel much better placed to discuss this subject, and more importantly take some informed decisions about the value this could provide to employers‎…..whilst being far from expert on the subject!

What is Glassdoor?

In the simplest terms it’s like a TripAdvisor for employers. Employees, former employees, people who’ve had some interaction as a prospective employee are invited to post their reviews on their experience with an organisation. So in the same way consumers may look at reviews on places to eat or stay or products before deciding to buy, these publicly visible reviews may influence prospective talent in their decision of who they may want to work for in the future.

A scary thought!

Admittedly was my first reaction, but then I am a bit of a dinosaur in the social media age! Why would a company want to air its dirty linen in public? It’s a generally accepted premise that people are twice as likely to tell someone about a negative over a positive experience. How is this going to help a company project the employer brand it wants to?

If you can’t beat them join them

During a Q&A with one of Glassdoor’s UK Leadership team, when someone asked about how do they get a scathing old review off its profile…..the answer – get more positive reviews and they’ll supplant it. So whether a company likes it or not, people can post reviews about a company even if it’s not created its own profile page. So as a minimum it’s in a company’s interest to take ownership of its company profile as a basis from which it can start take some control – unfortunately opting out isn’t an answer!

Embrace an opportunity to build the employer brand

Clearly in an age where the HR community if often preoccupied with ways to build its employer brand to attract, retain and engage its talent, any way to promote is worth looking at. Even a negative review can create a positive impression – as it gives the opportunity for a company to show it cares, and more importantly is prepared to face up to feedback and do something about it. Better still, if you think you’ve got a highly engaged workforce who are willing to say what’s great about their employer this can be a very powerful message to the external world. Needless to say these things are being ranked in top employer lists and this will continue to grow – the 2015 list includes the likes of Google, John Lewis, Jaguar Land Rover, Microsoft, PA Consulting.

Who should be paying attention to this?

With its roots in San Francisco, Glassdoor is far from a household name in Europe, so this doesn’t seem to be an immediate faux pas if a company isn’t on board. But where do the greatest opportunities (or risks of inaction) lie? Glassdoor is most popularly used by those aged under 35, and quite possibly those from professions or disciplines where social media is much more heavily used. So companies with an age profile such as this should certainly be aware (and I’m sure already do!). Similarly those companies which place heavy emphasis on graduate recruitment should take notice – they may not always as a core consider social media so critical in hiring strategies (e.g. engineering businesses may have a much older demographic) but the pursuit of future leaders is high on the priority list. Graduates are notable users of things like Glassdoor, and in this age may be more likely to ‘connect’ with an aspirational company with an engaged workforce than a 100 year history.

And there’s more….

There is, but I’m not going to tell you about it! Glassdoor is in fact more than a review site for employers but my article wasn’t to promote Glassdoor……I’ve a social media luddite reputation to uphold! But even I posted my first review on TripAdvisor last week, and it was to share a positive dining experience no less! Food for thought (and for lovely Indian Street food I recommend Thali & Pickle in SW London!).

So Friend of Foe? I’m yet to decide, but if a company ignores it it’s more likely to be a foe, and never likely to be a friend – so better to take some control of it.

What are your views?