Hands down, HR professionals have done an amazing job over the past few years training top talent to be highly conscious of their online presence. Many thousands of blogs, articles, workshops, and webinars have offered advice, tips, and tricks to talented applicants. However, this advice is usually followed by an ominous warning… or else. That warning is real. CareerBuilder reports that 51% of of HR professionals reject applicants based on information found about them online. According to Cross-Tab Research, 70% of these rejections are based solely on a gut reaction to unverified information found by clicking the first search result.
Top talent has heeded the warning; their online reputation is pristine. Can you say the same about yours?
During a recent series of interviews, we uncovered that many top talent job seekers are firing back. An Ivy League MBA grad had this to say: “If a company’s Glass Door rating sucks I won’t even consider applying.” When pressed about the pedigree of a company, or their legacy would change her mind, she replied: “Reputation matters more [to me] than a prestigious company. I don’t care if they are a Fortune 100 or a hot new start up, I need to know who they are today.”
Harsh words to hear from a bright young millennial, but an even harsher realization for companies that are feeling squeezed in the race for top talent. Just as consumers are becoming more informed and savvy (breaking the traditional sales and marketing cycles, and forcing changes in the way products and services are bought and sold) so too are jobseekers changing the way companies attract and retain talent.
Glassdoor is facilitating this change. It captures insider information about the culture and ethics of a company, advancement opportunities, and pay and compensation. Promoting itself as the pulse check about a company for applicants, Glassdoor helps applicants assess whether working at a company is “worth” applying to. Unfortunately, the site often becomes a platform where frustrated employees air grievances, with far fewer logging on to post positives. This is especially unfortunate when, adapting Ruby Newell-Legner’s assertion about customers, it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one negative. This skews the algorithm and plays a very real role in your firm’s success in winning top talent.
Hey CEOs, It’s personal.
A new era has dawned where the famous or infamous Founder or CEO such as Indra Nooyi, Elon Musk, Martin Shkreli, or Heather Bresch lends his or her personal reputation (for good or ill) to the company.
With over 85% of modern corporate valuation being based in intangibles, investors, market-watchers, and consumers often blur the line between the CEO and the company; doubly so if the CEO is also the founder. A recent study found that over 65% of consumers tie a company’s reputation directly to the CEO. Similarly, Weber Shandwick’s comprehensive research on CEO reputation finds that 44% of global executives directly attribute fluctuations of their firm’s market valuation to the intangible reputation of their CEO.
CEO reputation, then, in the words of Marc Fetscherin, becomes an asset to be “built, measured and managed.” Glassdoor management has become a critical sub-domain for online reputation management. Glassdoor reviews translate to real company value. According to Weber Shandwick, roughly 50% of job seekers report CEO reputation affects their decision to apply to a company. While 58% of current employees report that their current CEO’s reputation keeps them there. Glassdoor factors this trend prominently into their algorithm by allowing respondents to evaluate and comment about the favorability of a company’s CEO. Recall the statistic that 70% of HR professionals base their applicant rejections on unverified information… this is an easy reversal to extrapolate.
So, CEOs, think twice before you fire off that angry tweet. Your words reverberate around the world 140 characters at a time, and your faux pas can live on the internet for years.
There is Hope!
Don’t worry, not all is lost! Below are 5 tips to help you manage your online reputation and start attracting and retaining top talent.
Do the Research
Take a very hard look at yourself, and be honest about the changes that need to be made. Don’t only search for your company name, search for your products, search for your top executives, search for yourself. Use every search engine, Google, Bing, even dredge up Yahoo and check, then check again. Check Social Media, and especially check rating sites such as Glassdoor. Remember, the SEO adage remains true here… top search results matter. If your top results are all positive, congratulations! If your top results are all about that oil spill, and how you said you want your life back… then, I’m sorry Mr. Hayward you have a lot of work ahead of you.
Own Your Online Presence
Often we give up our online presence to other people, not by design, largely by lack of a social media strategy. This is especially true with consumer products that generate a lot of excitement like Pokémon Go, or scandals and crises. Employ social listening techniques to stay abreast of fast breaking events surrounding your online presence. Also, owning your online presence requires aligning all teams that touch social media, corporate communications, marketing, product teams, etc. and building a communications plan, enforcing brand standards in every post, every time. Do not exclude HR in this plan, as we have seen with Glassdoor, HR is a key stakeholder in identifying and attracting top talent as well as maintaining the reputation of the company and should also be a curator of the firm’s online presence.
Be the Change You Want to See
If you have a negative online reputation, especially on Glassdoor, it is time to take it into hand. If reviews are outright slanderous or inflammatory, contact the site to have them removed. The TOS for Glassdoor supports firms against “faked” reviews, but it is hard to prove a review is fake. The battle to for removal is a long one. A more immediate response would be to engage with the reviewers, address concerns, and faithfully report positives. You can request that happy employees to organically post positive reviews, but you cannot force them to post reviews, as that is also against Glassdoor TOS (not to mention disingenuous).
If the negative reviews are true… then it goes without saying, change your behavior. A culture change is much more intensive, and often painful. In the long run, however, it can change the entire trajectory of your company to the upper right quadrant.
Re-Imagine Your Data
You have all the data on hand to get an early grasp on your online reputation. It is how you interpret these data that leads to early impactful insights. Establishing good organizational health metrics will help you describe, indicate, and anticipate the effect of your company’s reputation on performance. Traditionally this type of data has been disconnected, like plates spinning separately, they provided snapshots of one distinct metric such as leadership culture, strategic vision, financial success. But, these separate data streams are proven to be closely linked and inter-connected drivers to the whole of the company’s success.
Online reputation is one dimension of organizational health. By applying the external data that you get from sources like Glassdoor, and marrying this with internal data on behavior and sentiment you can see clear patterns that are absent in both internal or external self-reporting (positive or negative). This data can identify trends in your direct control and highlight “low hanging fruit” adjustments that will allow you to step ahead of the curve and manage your organizational health to optimize online reputation, inform hiring, marketing, and strategy.
To learn more, download our White Paper on: “How to Leverage Data to Improve Your Organization’s Brand, Employment Brand and Revenues”
Ask a Professional
Navigating the complexity of online reputation management is a daunting task. It is ok to ask for help. PlazaBridge Group has demonstrated success in remediating Glassdoor reviews, organically increasing Glassdoor ratings, and generating increased company valuation based on CEO and Company Reputation. If you are ready to own your online presence and grow your revenue, reach out to schedule an onsite consultation!