It wasn’t long ago that Sprout Social received a chilly review on Glassdoor.com. An employee took to the popular review site to lament that the air conditioning in our office was just a little too powerful. So we did what was only natural: We bought him a sweatshirt.
Of course, this interaction was all in good fun (and much to the delight of the rest of our employees, who all got new swag too). However, present and prospective employees aren’t always this amiable when speaking anonymously online. In fact, many of them have much to say about some rather sensitive information, from the interview process to salary negotiation. They even rate the CEO. Small wonder, then, that many organizations prefer to avoid these sites all together. But to do so is to miss out on a valuable opportunity.
At Sprout, we believe open communication creates progress. That said, transparency isn’t always as clean as one might like it to be. If your organization is debating the merits of employer review sites, consider the following guidelines—and start warming up to Glassdoor.com.
Establish a Culture of Transparency
Before moving forward with a Glassdoor action plan, make sure the inner workings of your organization align with your established vision and values. Does what you’re projecting online reflect what’s happening within your walls? It should, because authenticity is key.
From monthly all-hands meetings to using tools that foster communication among teams, at Sprout, we make every effort to cultivate a two-way dialogue with both our employees and our larger community. That culture is reflected in how we recruit for Team Sprout. We pursue only those candidates who are truly a great fit, which means that we strive to learn as much as possible about each candidate throughout the recruiting process, and we encourage them to grill us just the same. Being honest and thorough on the front end helps ensure a better long-term fit for everyone.
Join Candidates in the Online Conversation
As an extension of your corporate culture, your Glassdoor profile should give any interested job candidate a chance to peer inside your doors before ever stepping foot in the office. This knowledge empowers candidates to ask better questions, because they have a deeper understanding of your organization right from the start. Join them in this conversation as early as possible online. Be responsive, engaged and proactive, and you will likely attract a better pool of future candidates in the process. Then it’s time to take it offline—nothing beats interviewing on-site, meeting the team and getting a feel for the office and culture firsthand.
Make sure your current employees are sharing their voices online too, both through an employee advocacy program as well as through employer review sites like Glassdoor.com.
At Sprout, we actively invite our team members to share their thoughts in person and online. We even send out periodic email reminders to post directly on Glassdoor. Why? Because we are confident that what they share will make our organization stronger—and that they will have primarily positive feedback, based on the hard work we do day in and day out to make Sprout a great place to work. Likewise, if something could be better, we want to know about it, and we want to show our community how we are responding to our workforce’s changing needs.
Every Glassdoor review is read by our talent and executive teams. When the review provides an opportunity, we comment about updates on how we have progressed since the review was posted, highlight an element of the review or provide an answer. In addition to timely responses, we keep our profile fresh with updated company statistics, photos and more.
We also always offer to talk in person. After all, we want employees to know that their feedback is encouraged and that they have direct access to someone to discuss their suggestions. The online space is just one more avenue for this sort of information sharing.
Meanwhile, because positive feedback can be attributed to our team, we acknowledge their efforts constantly. We are built by the people of our company, thus we give credit where credit is due.
Tackle Negative Feedback Head On
One of the most common reasons employers avoid review sites is the fear of inviting negative feedback. If your organization receives criticism online, how should you handle it? At Sprout, we view it as an opportunity for improvement. While we try to be an extraordinary place to work, we aren’t perfect. We have a long road ahead of us as we continue to grow both as an organization and as individuals. If our team ever grew complacent—and stopped providing constructive criticism—we would view that as a major sign of disengagement. Simply put, we want people to care.
Don’t Sweat the Salary Stuff
Salary is another sensitive area, with too many caveats to detail. Just know that compensation differs from company to company as well as from person to person. Employees naturally will share this most precious of information—readily available around the web and through government labor departments anyway—but if a data point seems particularly off, don’t be afraid to reach out to Glassdoor to contest it. It may take some time, but like you, Glassdoor wants this online information to be as accurate as possible. Reasonable candidates understand that salary information is highly individual and should be taken with a broad perspective—and a grain of salt.
Still Not Sure?
With the prevalence of social media, your organization shouldn’t be afraid of open and direct dialogue. After all, whether you listen or not, people are talking about your brand. So ask yourself: Is it really better to look the other way, or should you guide the conversation as much as possible—making sure you’re striking the right match between employer and employee?
Embrace Glassdoor as an opportunity for your organization, and remember: At the end of the day, employer review sites may be great for information sharing, but they’re not a one-stop shop either (unless, of course, you’re in the market for a new sweatshirt).
Jim Conti: Jim Conti leads Sprout Social's ambitious talent team. Affectionately known as the "Cruise Director" while in the office, Jim can be found exploring the streets of Chicago and planning his next international adventure when not growing and caring for Team Sprout. Give him a follow @SproutJim.