-An Intimate Conversation with Glassdoor’s Dawn Lyon Containing Invaluable Tips for CCOs and Agency CEOs Alike –
Cody: What is the 20,000-foot view of how Glassdoor came to be?
Lyon: We like to say we've turned the lights on inside companies, to give everyone an opportunity to look in. In 2007, we were starting to see reviews on other sites. Our founders thought, "If work is such a critical part of our lives, why on earth is it so hard to find out what it's like to really work somewhere?" So, they created Glassdoor to bring greater transparency to work. Our mission hasn't changed one iota since then. It's "To help people find a job and company they love."
Cody: How many organizations are being tracked on Glassdoor?
Lyon: We started with an original 250 that we seeded. Now, we have well over 740,000 companies globally on which we have collected data.
It’s really powerful to see how this level of transparency around work transcends borders. People have a hunger to know what it's like to work somewhere.
Cody: What tips or lessons learned can you share in shaping or improving an organization's workplace culture?
Lyon: I think it's critically important that companies look at their employer brand and overall reputation cross-functionally. Some of the companies that are among the highest rated have a cross-functional approach to how they think about culture, how they infuse culture, and then ultimately, how they manage the reputation of their employer brand.
Cody: Do many companies score a perfect five, or is that really unusual?
Lyon: I would say it's pretty unusual. But, there are many companies that come very close, like 4.982.
When we look at our small business list of high-rated companies compared to our large list of 1000 employees or more, the ratings on the small business list tend to be higher, but there are many large companies that are in the high 4s. So, getting very close to a 5.0 is achievable. There are inherent challenges in running organizations, and organizations are like people. Very few are perfect.
Cody: Are there three or four attributes that organizations with a 4.8 or 4.9 rating share, and is it more likely that people will go to Glassdoor only because they are unhappy?
Lyon: Culture and values, based on our data, are the number one drivers that correlate to satisfaction.
Leadership is the number two driver of overall satisfaction, based on our data. The third top driver is career advancement opportunities.
Another important ingredient is that employees truly enjoy and have fun at work.
For low-rated companies, almost uniformly, the thing that bubbles up to the top, time and time again, is low ratings around senior leadership. If people do not respect the senior leaders of the company, they will generally have low satisfaction overall.
Cody: How do you do know that what's being posted is based on reality as opposed to being purely fabricated?
Lyon: One thing that’s intrinsic to who Glassdoor is, is the integrity of our data. We're an anonymous community. But our users aren't anonymous to us. They need to validate their email address, and we have to be able to communicate with them.
Second, everything that goes up, to this day, is pre-moderated. If someone leaves a review on Glassdoor, it does not go live immediately.
In addition, we are adopting and employing the most advanced technology systems possible. We also have a pretty distinct set of community guidelines that we require people adhere to when they leave reviews.
Cody: In terms of the incendiary negative comments, do you see corporations just leaving them alone or trying to counter?
Lyon: Companies should absolutely have their voice heard. You participate, and provide your point of view in a non-defensive way to influence the outcome and perceptions.
The vast majority of our users tell us their opinion of a company will improve when they see a company engage, and respond, to a review. Respond at a high level because while you're engaging with a single individual, you're also really responding to the benefit of your other employees, and you're communicating with every candidate visiting your page.
This may show candidates that you are open, you take feedback, and you're willing to communicate and engage in dialog, in order to get the best and brightest in the house.
Cody: Are you finding more employees or former employees either expressing pride or dismay in the “world” stance their leadership is taking?
Lyon: Workers are not just looking for a job. They're looking for a place that is aligned with their values. They're looking for a place where their work matters and they have purpose.
We’re seeing real demand from people who say they want their employers and executives to take a stand.
We conducted a survey earlier this year and found 84% believe U.S. companies have an important voice in proposed legislation, regulation, and executive orders that could affect their business or lives of their employees. Among women, 45 to 54, the number is 95%.
We found that 60% of employees expect their employer to take a stand on important issues affecting our country and constitutional rights, such as immigration, equal rights, climate change, and more. Among those 18 to 34, among millennials, it’s 75%.
Employees are also expecting their employers to clear the way for them to use work time and resources to advocate for positive change. Regardless of political affiliation, 51% of employees said they expect their employer to allow them to do that. And among those 18 to 34, it's 72%.
In addition, while there could be certain segments of an organization’s customer population who disagree with some of the sentiment, it’s going to be viewed as the cost of doing business.
By the way, and this is critical, it’s not just employees and job seekers who are interested in a CEO’s point of view. It’s investors as well.
Investors have recognized that employee sentiment is a leading indicator of financial performance, customer service and more.
And sometimes, they pick up things -- positive and negative -- that might be bubbling up inside a company before it goes external. If communications executives are not monitoring trends in sentiment, they really should because others are watching.
Cody: So, CEO advocacy is akin to an early warning system for investors, employees, recruits and, really, all stakeholder audiences, correct?
Lyon: One thing is for sure, this level of transparency is the new normal, and workplaces in our world are only going to have to be more transparent. There's no way we're going to be putting that genie back in the bottle.
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