There was a time when a ‘Boss’ was the person who told you what to do, ‘work’ was somewhere you were expected to be between certain hours every day of the week and information was distributed on a need to know basis.
Now, transparency has blown through the workplace leaving in its wake a ‘new normal’ – this is shifting the balance of knowledge and empowerment towards employees.
Employees used to be in the dark in the workplace. The employer would hold all the cards from the moment someone walked through the door for an interview to the moment they walked out the door on their way to another job or to retirement. Information about salary, the interview process, the benefits package, the culture and how a company had treated it staff in the past was restricted, or at the very least difficult to find. This has meant that making decisions about where to work has been, until a few years ago, based on very limited, incomplete and certainly one-sided information.
Nowadays, most internet-connected and technology-literate consumers would consult numerous reviews before they even spend a few pounds on a book for their Kindle, so the idea of choosing a job without consulting freely available user-generated content about the company seems ludicrous.
Anyone involved with creating, nurturing and enhancing a brand or a company’s reputation knows that a brand is not just what you say it is, it is also what people say about it. When it comes to an ‘employer brand’, job seekers get far more information online than what they read on a company’s career site. So a company’s employer brand is not just about what an employer puts out but it is also about the voice of the people that interact with the company, be it employees, customers, investors, shareholders and others. In today’s online, social media world, job seekers get aggregated opinions of millions of ‘insiders’ on tap, plus data that they simply couldn’t get elsewhere!
We know that people love to share and the voracious development of mobile technology is only accelerating this trend. In fact, according to Glassdoor research, 20% of people are likely to read company reviews on their mobile device 15 minutes before the start of an interview. We also know that people love to share information about their job and their company given that they spend so much of their lives at work. This is all to the benefit of employees everywhere.
This is the reality of the workplace now – there are no secrets anymore and as a result everyone from graduates and interns, to people looking to make their final career move, can find a job they love by having more information at their fingertips, thereby making better decisions about where to go work. Who could argue that this is not a good thing?
For companies that focus on employee engagement and treat their staff well, this is already proving to be a massive boost. People are fighting to get their foot in the door. Companies like Google and John Lewis, for example, get so much press as being highly desirable places to work that they can, and do, attract the best. The competition for each and every place at these companies is fierce, and rightly so because they are high performance workplaces.
For companies that, to put it gently, place a lower value on how employees feel and whether they are satisfied and engaged, the game is well and truly up. The inside track on all jobs and companies is now ‘out there’ for all to see. It’s time for these companies to shape up.
This transparency will continue to rapidly change the workplace. Those companies that cannot, or refuse to, adapt will wither and those that embrace the trend will flourish. We are already seeing this today, with companies living their lives in the open finding it easier and cheaper to recruit and having much higher rates of retention. Not to mention, of course, the significant impact to the bottom line of an engaged workforce with everyone pulling in the same direction.
While in some quarters of the HR industry, reactions to Glassdoor have been wary, most HR pros and recruiters have moved on and are rapidly working out how to leverage the community to more effectively hire top talent. As one prominent HR analyst Kyle Lagunas recently put it, “Glassdoor has created something that was missing from the talent acquisition process for years: accountability” which gives you an indication of what a massive impact workplace transparency is having on the employment industry.