How Glassdoor moved HR tech to the boardroom

Few things have been as instrumental in moving HR tech to the boardroom as online forum, Glassdoor.

Initially taking hold in Silicon Valley, but now spreading across the globe, Glassdoor operates as a decision-making tool for knowledge workers to decide whether or not they want to work for a particular company.

“What’s our Glassdoor score?”

With the luxury of being able to pick and choose, in-demand tech talent use Glassdoor as a reference point to determine whether to accept an assignment or permanent position. A bad Glassdoor rating can affect whether a company can hire their desired talent, which reverberates through the entire organization.

Not surprisingly, boards are taking notice and a common question around the table is now: “What’s our Glassdoor score?”

This represents a big opportunity for HR. Executives involved with people and culture are the ones who can answer that question. That means Glassdoor is directly responsible for a large number of HR executives now being invited into board level discussions about culture, retention and engagement.

Yelp for employees

Glassdoor operates on the tried and tested platform of sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor before them. Current and former employees rate a company on a scale of 1 to 5 on a number of criteria. It’s a great way of getting inside information to help make a career decision. But like those sites, Glassdoor has certain limitations.

One of the challenges is keeping the data real. Some companies have tried (generally unsuccessfully) to game the system by planting reviews in an attempt to doctor that rating.

Most notably, as with all review sites, the majority of ratings come from the top and bottom of spectrum. Most people will only think to review a hotel or restaurant if their experience is spectacularly good or appallingly horrible. Thus most ratings will be either 5 stars or 1 star.

Similarly, Glassdoor ratings tend to be from people who have either just joined or just left a company. The ratings may be skewed due to people posting during the honeymoon period or conversely when they have become disillusioned enough to leave.

How to skew the score in your favor

There are ways to skew the Glassdoor ranking in your favor without resorting to dirty tricks. Indeed, we have had a number of clients come to us at Culture Amp with the specific goal of improving their Glassdoor stats.

Our data shows consistently that there’s a strong correlation between employee engagement and Glassdoor rankings. A review of your data acts as a pretty accurate predictor of your rating — companies with high engagement tend to have high Glassdoor ratings and vice versa.

As I noted above, Glassdoor tends to provide only a snapshot of the top and bottom opinions. Data from an engagement survey provides a more horizontal picture. The results are more nuanced and more balanced but most importantly, you gain an understanding of why your results are as they are.

In other words, Glassdoor tells you what people think about your organization, whereas Culture Amp can tell you why they feel that way. This is the most important step to learning what is really going on inside your company and therefore how to change it in your favor.

Glassdoor helped legitimize the HR tech sector and has moved the conversation about people and culture all the way up to the boardroom. And for that, we should thank them.

Didier Elzinga is a People Geek and CEO/Co-Founder of Culture Amp. You can follow Didier on Medium, Twitter or LinkedIn. This article first published on Culture Amp insights.