Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How HR Should Respond to Glassdoor

Glassdoor, like the earlier Vault.com, allows employees to anonymously rank and rant on their employers publicly.

Even in today's world of transparency and social media, this is one area that companies would be wise to take an immediate stance against and prohibit the use of posting on this site. The employers being targeted, particularly Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, should create a firm policy with infractions leading up to and including termination.

I'm sure a lot of social media gurus are squirming at what I am saying and itching to fire off a nasty-gram about how I don't understand the new workplace. I know the argument. You must show you are an open company and rather than squelch the anonymous backstabbing you should use the information to improve your organization. Or maybe you should encourage happy employees to drown out the unhappy.

That sounds great but it's not realistic. Here's my counter argument.

Employee satisfaction levels (and salaries which are also posted) are confidential, internal-only information. When one person posts on a forum or in their blog it might be irrelevant but when aggregates of employees post it creates a dataset that is company confidential information. There is absolutely no benefit to the company of having this information made public.

Here's the problem:

- It's anonymous - people do not have to be honest.
- It's likely to be by the disgruntled minority rather than the happy employees.
- It's more fun to complain.
- There are two sides to each story. As any HR person will confirm, the employee's side of the story is often exaggerated, incorrect or based on faulty information.
- Inevitably specific confidential information will be exposed.
- ANYONE, including people (and competitors) who never worked for your company can pretend to be from your company and post ratings and reviews.

I'm not sure why Glassdoor is getting so much hype when we saw the exact same thing with Vault.com. Here is what I wrote about Vault in November 2004.
Airing Your Dirty Laundry
Did you know that there is a website where employee satisfaction surveys are made public?

I can only imagine what would happen to me if Nobscot's clients' exit interviews were made public. (I'm thinking something like public flogging or maybe root canal without anesthesia.)
You can read the rest of Airing Your Dirty Laundry here.

Companies should be smart and react quickly before this one gets out of hand. There is $6.5 million dollars of second round venture capital money being used to fund this rumor and gossip spreading site. Don't let your company become a victim.

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