Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Call for more research on usage of employer rating sites

A few days ago I started a LinkedIn Poll on usage of review and ratings site, which basically looks like this:

In order to find out more about a prospective employer, when do you visit an employer review and ratings site?
*  Before sending off my application
*  After I've got invited for an interview
* After I've attended the job interview
* As soon as I receive the job offer
* Never

As long as the poll is active, you can see it in the right column of this blog. I look forward to the results. Thanks.

Out of interest I recently also checked German employer review site kununu.de to compare two companies, two established Internet Start-Ups, one in B2B, one in B2C field.

Results? The B2B company received nearly 60 ratings, while the B2C company only some 15. While the profile of the B2B company was viewed nearly 20,000 times, the profile von the B2C company has been opened nearly 5,000 times. The average rating of the B2B company was worst by around 0.3 percent point.

Is it possible, that
* the brand image of B2C company influences the perception of their employer brand and blocks job seekers to seek out more information about them .
* employer rating of B2B company are viewed more often because job seekers may not have any associations with the company
* The better brand image of the company, the less likely the employer brand will be explored via employer review site.

Or is the varying activity level of ex-/employees and job seekers on these two employer profile sites just a result of the time lag in their profile existence, information that cannot be obtained on the kununu-site. Nota bene, both companies have been heavily recruiting based on the number of job advertisements on their career sites and job boards in May 2012.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

“Knowing-doing” gap and employer rating sites

Employees have always shared their opinions by word of mouth. In Web 2.0 they have the opportunity to do so on employer rating sites, such as glassdoor.com, employerinformation.co.uk, aboutacompany.com, kununu.com, opracodawcach.pl, etc.

Employer rating sites have three main stakeholder groups, candidates, ex-employees and HR departments. Current employees are an insignificant minority, as I don’t think they would be genuinely interested in sharing their opinion.

Candidates, particularly, the young internet savvy generation, are the recipients of information on potential employers. Hopefully while doing so, the readers use their critical mind when reading the comments. After all, each posting is a personal experience, though the personal circumstances of its author remain largely unknown.

Leavers are the content producers. While companies’ career websites provide subjective positive case studies, the opinions on employer rating sites are quite often negative, and in best case, more balanced. Particularly, non-voluntary leavers cope with the detachment from the company publicly and anonymously before moving on with life. This public criticism is an act of revenge.

The HR departments are the observers. Though, they too can engage in the conversation. HR needs to decide with the management whether the company will comment openly or not. Though people respect organizations if they respond to criticism, "it won't always be appropriate for organizations to respond online" accordingly to Vanessa Robinson, Head of HR practice development at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Secondly, HR can also note those commentaries and pass them internally so that the company can act upon it. However, I am afraid that in this respect most of the management teams face the “knowing-doing” gap identified by Pfeffer and Sutton (2000). This “knowing-doing” gap describes the today’s general management practice at many companies. The problem is not that managers don’t know what do, but actually doing it. Then senior executives know exactly what they should be doing to improve, but lack the time, energy, techniques, commitment and maybe even incentives. As the result, employee feedback received on employer rating sites is pointless.

Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2000).