why reputation management matters for employers (photo by https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=recruiting)

why reputation management matters for employers (photo by https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=recruiting)

Most people understand that employers are interested in employee reputation, as 92% of companies are using social media for recruiting, and often, Googling candidates before extending a job offer. But there’s another side to that coin: increasingly, job seekers are doing online research to learn more about companies before they make employment decisions as well. That means company reputation matters for employers more than ever before, and it can have serious impacts on the quality of recruitment, new hires, turnover, and ultimately, the bottom line.

Why Employer Reputation Matters

Companies may put a lot of effort into ensuring that they look good for consumers, but it is just as important to put your best foot forward for potential employees. What job seekers think of your company matters, and it can have serious impacts on human resources and beyond.

Though the high numbers of unemployment have all but vanished, even desperate job seekers care about the reputation of the companies they may work for. In 2012, 75% of Americans said they wouldn’t be willing to work for a company with a bad reputation — even if they were unemployed.

Even those that are willing to work for an employer with a bad reputation will attach qualifiers to that willingness. The survey indicates that 25% of job seekers would need more than a 50% pay raise to consider working for a company with a bad reputation, and 15% expect even more than double.

Further, a recent survey from Indeed shows that company reviews have a significant influence on where employees will apply and ultimately accept job offers. In the survey, 83% of respondents reported that they’re influenced by reviews when making application decisions, and 46% report that company reputation significantly influences their job offer decisions.

With a recovering economy, employees can afford to be even more picky, choosing companies that align with their values and career goals. Today, job seekers can and will read reviews, news, and other resources about companies online before even submitting a resume, taking a TripAdvisor approach to learning about companies — and making it more important than ever for employers to develop a positive online reputation.

The Threats and Benefits of Online Reputation for Employers

A negative reputation, whether a result of a scandal, CEO behavior, negative business practices, or dissatisfied employees can cause serious problems for companies. An employer’s negative online reputation can lead to difficulty recruiting and retaining new employees, higher costs to hire, and failing to attract top talent.

We’re seeing that employees value companies with a great reputation and a track record of satisfied employees. Now and increasingly in the future, we expect candidates to move away from opportunities with companies that can’t maintain a positive reputation online.

There are, of course, a number of benefits to maintaining an active and positive online reputation for employers. These include:

  • Finding the right candidates: With a well publicized online reputation, companies can attract job seekers that align well with company culture and mission.
  • Lowered recruiting costs: Companies with a great reputation may find that their goodwill works for them. Often, news of new job opportunities will spread by word of mouth if the company is a great place to work. Usually, it’s employees themselves encouraging others to join the company that makes them happy.
  • Reduced turnover: With a positive, well documented online reputation, candidates will be well informed of what to expect before coming to work, ultimately offering a better fit that’s more likely to stick. We also see that often, in the wake of company scandals, employees will leave en masse.
  • Top notch candidates: Great employees want to work for great companies. A 2012 survey found that 87% of Americans would consider leaving their current job to work for a company with an excellent reputation — and most would require less than a 10% pay raise.

What Job Seekers Are Looking For

It’s clear job seekers are placing a high value on a positive reputation for employers. But what exactly are they looking for? Today, job seekers researching a company’s reputation want to know about:

  • Current employee opinion: Perhaps the most important factor job seekers are looking for is happy employees, both current and former. They’ll look for reviews online that detail employees’ experience with the company to find out whether most people enjoy working there or not.
  • How much they pay: Many employers aren’t forthcoming with salary ranges on job postings, but job seekers still want to know. They are searching for salary data to find out what similar positions at the company pay and will do research to find out if that’s in line with what they should expect. They may also search for job interview and negotiation details to learn how far they can expect to push your initial offer.
  • Company culture: Job seekers want to know if they’ll fit in well with the organization. They’re looking for positive signs about company culture on social media, press releases, news stories, and more.
  • Company history: Job seekers are interested in learning about company background. How the company got started, what its mission is, and how it has developed over the years.
  • Social and environmental issues: Companies that damage the environment or public health typically earn a bad reputation and may have trouble recruiting and retaining talent. The same is true for those that struggle with fair wages overseas and other social issues.
  • CEO reputation: What do people think of the CEO? Job seekers want to know what public opinion is as well as what current employees have to say. Remember that a CEO’s reputation can have a major influence on company reputation and how the organization is perceived publicly.
  • Recent news stories: Which news stories often pop up for the company, and what has been newsworthy lately? They’ll want signs that the company is doing well, looks profitable, and isn’t in any serious trouble financially, legally, or with the government.
  • Whether the company gives back: Increasingly, job seekers want to join companies that give back to their community. They’ll be looking for charitable foundations, scholarships, corporate giving, and volunteerism.

Where Job Seekers are Researching Companies

As employees place a higher value on employer reputation, there’s no end to the number of online resources that collect and share this information. Information from employee review sites, best company rankings, and other websites can make or break a company in the eyes of many candidates. Here’s where you need to look good:

  • Forbes: Long considered the authority on the best employers in America, Forbes publishes data and ranking for companies in America that job seekers value. Online, job seekers can filter the list by industry, search by location, and more. Other resources offer a look at demographics, the number of new graduates hired, and the number of job openings available. They can also learn about the nation’s best small companies and find lists including the best places to work.
  • Glassdoor: While Fortune is often limited to large or high profile companies, Glassdoor levels the playing field and invites all employers to participate. Companies small and large are reviewed on this website where employees can leave anonymous reviews about their current and former employers. Reviews list pros, cons, and advice to management.
  • Indeed: More than just a job search site, Indeed also lists reviews, salaries, and more for individual companies. Employees can share information about work/life balance, job security, benefits, compensation, management, and job culture.
  • Vault: Like Forbes, Vault offers rankings for the best companies, particularly in industries including banking, law, consulting, and accounting.
  • PayScale: Employees may hit Google to find out how much they should expect to be paid for any particular job title, but they’re also checking out the salary profiles of individual employers. Using crowdsourced data, PayScale shows average salary data by job title and other details, and can even tell job seekers whether the employer pays above market, at market, or below market.
  • Google: Obviously, Google is tougher to nail down than a single recruiting review website. But Google’s influence is not to be missed, as often, it’s the first place candidates will go to learn about an employer. Everything is fair game on Google: news stories, company websites and social media, blog posts about the company, images, and more.
  • Social media: We all have a friend or two that loves to talk about work on Facebook or Twitter — and it’s not always positive. The bottom line is that people talk about work on social media, and what they say can and will influence the perception of the company as an employer, especially if it’s public.

How Employers Can Develop a Positive Online Reputation

Employer reputation is largely out of your hands, as often, candidates are looking to resources outside of the company to learn about them. But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless to develop a positive employer brand image. If you’re creating a positive online reputation as an employer, this is where you’ll need to start:

  • Develop employee activists: Employees can be your company’s biggest reputation cheerleaders. A 2014 study shows that typically, 1 in 5 employees are activists for their companies, spreading positive comments about their employers and even defending their company against criticism. It’s also important to note that employees are the most trusted voice from a company. Developing positive employee engagement, good internal communications, and an overall positive employment organization can tip the scales in your favor.
  • Encourage positive employee reviews: As with all types of online reviews, in employee reviews it’s often the people with a complaint that feel the need to speak up. It may not occur to happy employees that they should share a positive opinion about the company online. Sometimes, you’ve just got to ask for it. Make requesting employee reviews part of not just exit interviews, but annual employee reviews as well.
  • Never ignore negative feedback: Employees with a complaint may not be fun to listen to, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Their complaints can shed light on employment issues and other problems in the company, and companies should be paying attention. At the very least, dealing with negative feedback can allow companies to better influence the conversation online, flagging inappropriate reviews and responding publicly to reviews that are critical but accurate.
  • Develop positive news stories: Any company with a good public relations team is already doing this, but it’s important enough to mention. Employees are looking for positive signs of life from employers, such as giving back to the community, reporting positive financial status, and respectable executives. Ensure that the press releases and other news that your company is putting out reflects a positive employer image.
  • Embrace social recruiting: If your company hasn’t started recruiting on social media, you’re behind. Nearly all employers use social recruiting, and it can positively influence your reputation as an employer. Allowing job candidates to connect with the company, employees, and other stakeholders early in the recruiting process can offer positive insight into the company and help develop a better rapport.
  • Make the company a positive place to work: While you can take steps to ensure that the company is reflected in a positive light, there’s simply no gaming the system. Ultimately, if you want to develop a good reputation as an employer, you’ll have to earn it by being a good employer.