Should Employers Fear Glassdoor Reviews?

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dog vaccination with a big blue SyringeGlassdoor, if you didn’t already know, is that crowdsourcing review site that uses feedback from employees and interviewees of your company to rate your business in areas such: as salaries, employee satisfaction, career opportunities, culture and values, work-life balance and CEO approval. A bad review (or even a good review) on Glassdoor, or a similar site such as Career Bliss, will impact your brand and your ability to attract and retain talent.

Of course, many of you will be thinking that Glassdoor has been there for a while, so what’s the fuss about now? Well, I believe the site is gathering momentum and its influence is growing exponentially. It has annual traffic of about 200 million unique visitors, and its monthly traffic was up 61 percent last year. In fact, Glassdoor almost doubled its membership between 2012 and 2013.

As well as this, a study by Erin Osterhaus at reveals that 48 percent of those surveyed use Glassdoor when job hunting; so, its potential influence on job seekers is very strong. But, she also revealed some interesting statistics on the demographics of users which suggest that some positions or companies may have a greater chance of being reviewed and therefore at greater risk of a bad review.

For example, the survey found that the majority of job seekers using Glassdoor earn between $25,000 and $50,000 and usage is much patchier outside of this income range. Also, it found that older users between the age of 55 and 64 were the most active users and that over half of active Glassdoor users were over 45. So, it seems that the main Glassdoor users are mature, middle income and urban (they also discovered); so, if you are hiring outside of this demographic there is certainly less to fear or gain from Glassdoor reviews. They also found that most job seekers disregard reviews older than 6 months old so smaller companies with a small sample size and more infrequent reviews may also have less to fear.

So the extent to which you should fear or value Glassdoor can depend on the demographic that your company or department mostly recruits from.

But, the most interesting discovery from the research was that 40 percent of respondents said they would apply if the company had a one star rating; 15 percent would only apply if it had a two star rating; 30 percent would only apply with a three star rating and around 15 percent would apply only if it had a four star rating. So, if you have a low one or two star rating on Glassdoor you should be fearful as it’s seriously damaging your brand and hiring prospects, while a three, and to a much greater extent, four star rating are enhancing your brand.

Another side issue was identified by workplace dynamic, which questions the reliability of Glassdoor reviews. The company found that Glassdoor reviews typically constitute a 1.6 percent sample size and they are not randomly selected but come from a disproportionate number of “grumpy” employees. This suggests the Glassdoor data may be severely skewed and not totally trustworthy. It’s my feeling that job seekers are not completely taken in by Glassdoor reviews and may use them as a guide and can easily be persuaded to see things differently, meaning bad reviews on Glassdoor are not a death sentence.

In conclusion, the answer is that you shouldn’t fear Glassdoor, or even ignore it, as research suggests it can have a negative or positive impact on your employer brand if you are a large, well-known employer with statistically significant levels of feedback. Take a holistic view of the feedback, perhaps on an annual basis, (or more frequently if your employer brand is in the Emergency Room), and devise an employer branding and communication strategy that addresses any serious brand issues that have been uncovered.

Read more in Employer Branding

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.