The Wall Street Journal reports that an analysis of millions of anonymous reviews posted on Glassdoor identified more than 400 companies with major single-month spikes in disproportionately positive reviews. Across all rated companies on the website, five-star ratings comprised 45 percent of reviews in the months when reviews spiked for an employer, compared with just 25 percent in the six months before and after. The statistical improbability of this discrepancy indicates that many employers are attempting to game the Glassdoor system by coercing and coaching employees to write positive reviews instead of simply encouraging them, per Glassdoor’s rules. It’s not hard to understand why.
Glassdoor is the dominant employer review website with 64 million users per month (88 percent of whom use the site to search and apply for jobs) and 900,000 reviewed companies, so its ratings carry immense weight in recruiting. In a job hunter’s market with historically low unemployment, the content on Glassdoor matters even more, as companies struggle to retain good people and attract new employees. There are smart ways to monitor and respond to what’s happening on Glassdoor. Here are some important considerations:
Thresholds of Concern
When making a decision about where to apply for work, 84 percent of job seekers say the reputation of a company is important and 83 percent are likely to research company reviews and ratings. The average company rating on Glassdoor is 3.4 out of 5, but in a job hunter’s market, average ratings are presumably much less attractive than they would be in a typical market. Other factors play a part in candidate perceptions as well, such as the CEO approval rating (average of 66 percent) and the percentage of employees that would recommend the company to a friend. The site also offers additional information about available jobs, salaries, and benefits. Photos on Glassdoor are also key to attracting candidates, especially the younger generations.
Of course, the average review score features prominently on the site, as do actual reviews – so what the reviewers are saying matters too, especially when there are common themes, positive or negative. If the company has had negative publicity in the general media, that will often be reflected in a declining CEO approval score, and this is also something that can tarnish and employer’s brand.
These factors are even more important if you are seeking to improve retention and hiring of employees earning between $25,000 and $75,000. Nearly 60 percent of job seekers using Glassdoor reviews are earning between $25K and $50K, and nearly 30 percent are earning between $50K and $75K.
Topics of Concern
Employers should be concerned when their review scores trend downward toward or below the average, and when consistent negative themes become apparent. Diversity and inclusion are extremely important, for example, with 83 percent of Millennials saying they are engaged at work when they believe their organization fosters an inclusive culture, compared to just 60 percent when they feel their culture is not inclusive. Work-life balance is another theme that candidates can research on Glassdoor, with 85 percent now expecting their employer to support a balance between professional and personal commitments. Health and wellness is also a top priority, gaining in importance with the younger generations. More than 40 percent of Millennials will select an employer based on their health and wellness benefits, says Bersin by Deloitte.
Companies have an average annual turnover rate of 19 percent, with a 12 percent average voluntary turnover rate. The combination of downward trending Glassdoor review scores with increasing and/or above average turnover rates is a dire signal that actions must be taken to reverse these trends.
YES, Glassdoor Ratings Build and Destroy Employer Brands
Job seekers love using the Glassdoor app, rating it consistently at 4+ stars across iOS and Android. More than half of Glassdoor’s visits each month come from mobile devices. Consider the importance of mobile computing to the younger generations, and you can appreciate the impact of an app that both job candidates and your employees love using. The power your current and past employees have to affect your reputation is in their pockets.
A 1-star improvement in a company’s ratings on the site raises the odds that a typical employee will stay for their next role by 4 percent. Think of the rating as an aggregate measure of your company’s culture and values, work/life balance, senior management, compensation and benefits, and career opportunities. To build your employer brand on Glassdoor, start by investing in improvements in the most important categories to have positive reviews. Compensation and benefits are important to 30 percent of survey respondents and work/life balance is important to 24 percent.
The categories where negative reviews most deter candidates are compensation and benefits (25 percent), work/life balance (22 percent), and senior management (21 percent).
Improvements in these areas won’t take too long to manifest in reputational benefits. Recency of reviews is a huge factor to job seekers; in fact, half only take into consideration reviews from the last six months. Remember also that it is ok to publicize these improvements internally and to encourage employees to take note of these specific developments when they tell the world – through Glassdoor – what it’s like to work at your company.