We All Work In Glass Offices

We All Work In Glass Offices

Gary Slack | July 27, 2017

How Glassdoor is evolving into a platform to help companies vet prospective suppliers and customers.

Just as LinkedIn has evolved well beyond being an online jobs board, Glassdoor is evolving well beyond being just a place to help employees rate and learn about employers.

LinkedIn’s evolution has turned the platform into a powerful tool for b2b marketers and, most recently (with Sales Navigator) a social selling must-have for large sales forces. See my blog post.

For its part, Glassdoor is seeing expanded use as platform for suppliers of various kinds to evaluate potential customers and, on the other hand, for buyers to evaluate potential suppliers. This is happening the fastest, we feel, in the professional services space.

Think about it. Your company wants to work with trustworthy suppliers, partners and customers—ethical, known for integrity and stability, good labor relations and happy employees (who will stay longer and work that much harder for you).

In evaluating providers of a myriad of products and, especially, services (like marketing support, for example), you can learn a ton from Glassdoor about a company's real culture by looking at specific scores and reading employee reviews.

Start by looking at the overall company rating—the scale goes from 1 to 5. The average Glassdoor rating is 3.2. Any firm well below that—especially around 2.6 or below—should send warning signals to you. Maybe it should be quarantined from the business world, too. The firm will likely have less committed employees and higher turnover. Not good for them, not good for you!

Then while still on the dashboard, look, too, at what percentage of employees would recommend their firm to friends. (Almost a Net Promoter Score-type rating and very, very telling). See also how the CEO is rated and how many reviews he or she has.

Then read the reviews, seeing if they’ve gotten worse, gotten better or stayed about the same over time. You also can see each reviewer’s individual outlook for the company in question: positive, neutral or negative.

For firms that have fewer than five reviews, take all the scores a little less seriously, as the base from which to make judgments really ought to be a lot higher. Once a firm has 20 reviews or more, you can bank more on their scores.

For the record, and not to sound too promotional, our firm has 31 employee reviews and enjoys an overall 4.8 rating and a 99% “would recommend to a friend” score. And, hey, 99% approve of me. There’s always someone!

We are fortunate to rate well above most of our marketing, advertising and PR agency peers. In fact, we have not come across a marketing agency with 20+ reviews that exceeds our 4.8 score.

We try to make hay out of this, as you should if you are in a similar gratifying position, by inserting this Glassdoor peer rankings slide in all of our presentations to prospective new clients.

We hear rumors from time to time of firms—including one in the HR/benefits software space—that “game” Glassdoor by offering employees incentives—or “SPIFs”—to write good reviews (meaning “5” scores). We think this behavior is exceedingly rare, but it is something to be aware of.

Now, encouraging current and former employees to voluntarily write reviews is not the same as gaming—but just good business when your Glassdoor scores can materially affect your reputation and employer brand, reduce or increase turnover and influence both the quantity and quality of your job candidates.

So how do we do it? We never approach current employees individually—but instead encourage our employees as a whole 2-3 times a year to “consider” writing a review if they are so moved. During their exit interviews, we do ask departing employees if they would do so. We’re lucky; most do.

We run across companies from time to time, including a major b2b agency competitor, that have zero or remarkably few reviews. This puzzles us, as these firms usually have at least 100 employees and have been in business for years. Our take: their employees, current or former, really don’t care that much. Or the agency leaders don’t “get” the power of reviews. Probably both.

We think it will only become more common for providers to tout their Glassdoor scores to potential customers and clients—especially when you can tie the scores to a real customer/client benefit like better work or a more stable, motivated workforce.

At the same time and in turn, we find ourselves frequently going to Glassdoor to check out the scores of prospective customers and clients—to, frankly, help us determine if we want to work with them. We’re often shocked to see how low scores are for otherwise seemingly desirable prospects. It gives us pause.

Like any business, we look at lots of things in evaluating new business opportunities, whether RFP-driven or otherwise. In early-stage meetings with prospective clients with embarrassingly low Glassdoor scores, we will ask why? If we don’t like the answer (not just the low score), we may take a pass and have done so twice. Life is too short.

Ultimately, overall Glassdoor scores have a bit—maybe a lot—to do with the type of industry you are in and the types of people you employ. In our experience:

  • As a category, retail and other businesses with lots of public-facing employees tend to have scores nearer Glassdoor’s 3.2 average. For example, Sears is at 2.6, Nordstrom 3.6, Sephora 3.7, Bank of America 3.5, Wells Fargo 3.5, McDonald’s 3.3.
  • Manufacturing firms tend to have slightly higher scores—in the 3.2 to 3.8 range. For just four we examined, Honeywell is at 3.1, Emersion 3.5, Siemens 3.7 and GE 3.8.
  •  Software and technology firm scores tend to have the widest range, from the mid 3s to the mid 4s. For example, Amazon is at 3.6, eBay 3.7, Google 4.4, Facebook 4.6 and Twitter 3.9.
  • Many professional services firms tend to be in the 3.6 to 4.0 range. For example, Deloitte, Accenture, PWC and E&Y are all at 3.8.
  • Management consulting firms tend to have higher overall ratings than other types of professional services firms. Both McKinsey and BCG are at 4.3 while Bain Company is at 4.6.

Looking at employer Glassdoor scores has become a firmly ingrained habit these days for most people, especially millennials. That’s one reason why we’ve become a Glassdoor customer, enabling us to create a very robust company page that, frankly, goes well beyond what an admittedly no-cost LinkedIn company page can do for you.

We also are posting more jobs these days on Glassdoor than on LinkedIn and generally getting higher-quality candidates. Glassdoor tells us, and I have no independent verification, that their platform now gets as many weekly job-related visits as LinkedIn.

There was a time when you had to be hired—employee or service provider—to really begin to know what a prospective new employer or customer/client would be like to work with. Now with Glassdoor being used by practically everyone, our workplaces have more see-through doors, windows and walls.

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