What are your staff saying about you?

22 October 2015

Author: Emily Burt


What are your staff saying about you?

As employees turn to review site Glassdoor to rate their companies, Asian HR professionals are urged to arm themselves with the facts

It would be almost unthinkable, in today’s digitally savvy age, to book a holiday without finding out what other travellers thought on TripAdvisor, or to buy a book without investigating the views of readers on Amazon. And now the idea of crowdsourced reviews is coming to the Asian workplace, as Glassdoor – the ‘employee review’ website that is firmly entrenched in Europe and the US – spreads its wings across the region.
 
On Glassdoor, staff offer their opinions on the pros and cons of their workplaces, and post details including average salaries and even the type of questions that are asked at interviews.
 
Glassdoor claims to have 30 million users globally, who have posted more than eight million reviews. In the UK and US in particular, the savage nature of some reviews has shocked businesses, and the site has begun producing lists of the best employers as rated by its users. It has steadily become a staple of the recruitment process: in the UK, 68 per cent of candidates say Glassdoor is a believable source of information, making it more trusted than companies’ own collateral, according to a survey.
 
It is common for Glassdoor comments to be raised during interviews, and in the US, 90 per cent of jobseekers say they read a review of an employer before going for an interview. Many Asian companies already feature on the site. Multinationals such as HSBC and Deloitte have garnered dozens of local reviews, while Petronas, DBS Bank and the National University of Singapore have all been positively reviewed by existing employees.
 
“We have used Glassdoor on several occasions, and we strongly recommend it to our consultants,” says Joyce Jing, general manager for Singapore-based executive search firm ZW HR Consulting. “It’s packed with information about companies, which can really assist in placing candidates.”
 
Jing says there is value in using Glassdoor to benchmark and improve employee experience. Jamie Ong, HR business partner at Fairchild Semiconductor in Singapore, agrees: “Glassdoor reviews can be an avenue for HR professionals to understand how current and former employees feel about the company. It can also help them to see how competitors match up in terms of hiring and salary. It’s an open channel, and any opinion matters.”
 
The question is how to respond to reviews, particularly negative ones. Unilever is among a growing number of companies that opts for total transparency, actively encouraging staff and candidates to rate it – the FMCG giant’s recruitment page even links to its Glassdoor page. Others choose to offer responses to critical comments, though this runs the risk of appearing to ‘manage’ the conversation. In the July issue of People Management, Rob Walker, head of resourcing at disability charity Mencap, suggested occasional employer intervention could help: “Those rare cases where an employee or applicant has outright falsified their version of events can be catastrophic. I believe there is an argument for a short, dispassionate response putting the record straight.”
 
But no matter how you respond, being aware of the public dialogue about your company on Glassdoor and its rivals is fast becoming non-negotiable. The online conversation will continue regardless. As Ong warns: “Organisations should not underestimate this site.”