Employer review sites growing: Good or bad for HR?

As the number of candidates and employees using employer review sites soars, HR departments can no longer ignore them. The good news? You can use them to your advantage

Employer review sites growing: Good or bad for HR?
Fast-growing employer review site Glassdoor is set to expand after a $50 million cash injection. The key message? The use of Glassdoor and other sites like it by jobseekers in particular but employees in general is significant, growing and here to stay.
And depending on how they approach the issue, the pervasiveness of employer review sites – which allow current and former employees to rate their companies anonymously as well as report and compare salaries – can be either good or bad for HR professionals.
Glassdoor is currently the leading employer review site in the US, featuring a wealth of reviews on major international companies, and functioning as a resource not only for job seekers but also recruiters and employers, who can use the site to advertise positions and target candidates.

With 14 million unique visitors a month, Glassdoor is the biggest site, but it's not the only one: Vault is its major competitor in the US, and there are similar fast-growing sites in India, Germany, Australia and Canada.

Glassdoor spokesperson Samantha Zupan said HR professionals should not see employer review sites as threats to their company’s reputation but as tools to gain insights into their company culture.

"You can think of it as real-time benchmarking of what's working and what can be improved in your company," she said. "Because of the nature of the site and [the fact it’s] anonymous to the outside world, you can get a much more realistic and authentic view of what's going on in your company."

Professional HR blogger and CEO of Xceptional HR Jessica Miller-Merrell agreed the straightforward reviews allowed HR professionals to access honest reviews of company culture: "Prior to having a site like this, I would never be able to get that information," she said.

According to Miller-Merrell, employer review and social media sites are valuable because the information is real-time and honest. "Social media and technologies like Glassdoor where candidates can share experiences are forcing companies to make behavioral and cultural changes in their organization," Miller-Merrell said. "Otherwise they're going to miss out on great candidates."

Three ways employer review sites can help your recruiting strategy
  • Social listening "Monitoring those comments and conversations that are happening on Glassdoor and other places, and using that information to be able to make changes to your organization, is just like carrying out employee surveys: you’re getting feedback [from employees]," said Miller-Merrell. The big differences between social media and anonymous employee surveys are: the element of risk (a public negative review could cause more damage than an internal survey ever could); and the quantity and specificity of information (public sites may have only a few comments on your company, and they’ll tend to be from those with more extreme views/grievances).
  • Targeted recruiting You can target very specific candidate pools with carefully placed recruitment ads on employer review sites. "AT&T uses Glassdoor for targeting efforts, so if it is looking for a candidate in a specific position it will use the traffic on Glassdoor and market its job openings on competitors' pages," said Miller-Merrell.
  • Accessing salary information While job seekers use employer review sites to access salary information for similar positions elsewhere, employers can also use the sites to understand just how well or badly they’re paying their people – even if it’s only anecdotally. That knowledge can lead to cost savings, better retention, and much more.
Does your company get a bad rap on the employer review sites? Here are five ways to improve your employer branding:
  • Use social media  Your candidates are already searching on social media for both your company and your competitors’ profiles. Don’t fall behind: show job seekers what a great company you are with just one or two daily status updates about company culture. That’s not a lot of time for a big improvement.
  • Don’t neglect the company website If your budget is low, this is one simple way to improve your branding. The site’s already there, so why not strategize to entice visitors with the voice and tone of your communications?
  • Create short videos about available roles You’ve probably already seen recruiting videos from big brands like Starbucks, Apple and L’Oreal. Exciting story-telling may sound expensive, but don’t forget that with a sense of resourcefulness and a lot of creativity you too can create something compelling. To start with, publish short interviews with staff about why they love their jobs.
  • Use Google alerts It’s important to know how people are talking about your company as an employer. Monitor the web with alerts like “work + [your company]”, and keep an eye on Twitter with an application like Tweetdeck, so you know who’s talking and can respond appropriately. Encourage happy employees to join the tweeting discussion.
  • Collaborate with colleagues in marketing Research from Employer Brand International found that only 18% of companies delegate their employer branding to the marketing department, even though, theoretically at least, your marketing guys should know best how to get an effective message out there.

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