By Andrew Hazelton
If traditional “Employee Engagement” or “Opinion Surveys” are akin to what employees and team members say to an organization’s proverbial face, then Glassdoor.com is what they’re saying behind the organization’s back. Therefore, this particular social media feedback can give companies an opportunity to gain unique insights to help evaluate and improve its internal and external branding. That’s the business case for monitoring Glassdoor in principle. But, what tends to happen in actual practice within organizations? AETHOS recently surveyed more than 50 HR professionals from best practice hospitality companies to understand the extent to which they give credence to and leverage Glassdoor as a business tool.
To set the stage we first measured our peer groups’ appetites for routinely conducting employee opinion/engagement surveys, which historically has been the best practice approach to evaluating a company’s climate. Not surprisingly, 81%of those surveyed actively conduct some form of employee opinion/engagement survey, and an overwhelming 93% believed that the insights from these surveys were trustworthy and useful. That being said, we wanted to dig deeper to assess how best practice companies in our industry are leveraging what their employees are telling them behind their back, via Glassdoor.
Of those surveyed, nearly 60% of respondents confirmed that their organizations are actively monitoring Glassdoor. Moreover, there were two main reasons for this: (1) to gain insight about how employees feel the company is doing compared to its competitive set and; (2) to utilize positive remarks on Glassdoor to establish greater or more diverse social media presence for recruitment purposes. These findings suggest that there is a new norm in the hospitality industry for assessing employee engagement and workplace climate.
So,what is prohibiting the other 40% of organizations that are not leveraging Glassdoordoor from doing so? Interestingly enough, it had nothing to do with perception or validity of the information Glassdoor provides. In fact, more than 80% of respondents, both who routinely monitor and who don’t monitor Glassdoor, found the information trustworthy and useful. A simple “lack of a dedicated individual or resource” to monitor Glassdoor was the number one reason why an organization failed to utilize the service, followed by the belief that the overall data were too cumbersome to gather.
What are the key takeaways from our pulse survey? Glassdoor isn’t going anywhere—neither is social media and neither is the generation who have grown up with it; the millennials. Thus, it’s probably in an organization’s best interest to allocate resources to monitor the feedback and competitive intelligence offered by Glassdoor. Further, a presence on Glassdoor, similar to other social media like LinkedIn,Facebook or Twitter, can help an organization’s internal and external branding.
By no means is Glassdoor “gospel,” so it’s important to close with a caveat and suggestion. From a statistical sampling perspective, it would likely be a mistake to make critical decisions about business and people practices based on Glassdoor feedback alone. Glassdoor functions like a “comment card”—its information is subjective, non-standardized, unvetted and arguably not representative of an organization’s actual climate or culture. At some point, Glassdoor or other social media might advance to become an even stronger business tool than they are today. Until then, we strongly recommend as a best practice that companies use Glassdoor feedback only as a secondary or supplemental source of information to help corroborate, cross-checkor contextualize the results from formal, well-executed engagement/opinion surveys,which tend to provide a statistically valid representation of the perceptions and feedback from the employee base. Put the two together and you have both qualitative and quantitative perspectives that can set the stage for ongoing company connection, improvement and perhaps even innovation.
Andrew Hazelton is Managing Director of AETHOS Consulting Group, based in Philadelphia, PA. An experienced recruitment consultant, he has over a decade of retained executive search experience in a variety of industries, including hotel, restaurant,gaming, travel, real estate, finance, and technology. Prior to joining AETHOS Consulting Group Andrew was with HVS Executive Search and spent six years with Korn/Ferry International. Throughout his career he has been responsible for completing a number of C-suite searches. He has authored a number of articles on executive selection, general HR trends and compensation for the hospitality industry. Andrew is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University, an active alumni member, and a member of the Penn State Hotel and Restaurant Society. Andrew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.