As an industry, property management professionals have done a remarkable job in embracing and managing their company reputations related to online resident reviews. In fact, according to the 2018 Multifamily CSR Benchmark Study, 86% of property management companies have policies in place requiring responses to those online resident reviews.
Attend any given industry conference, and you’ll find panels, presentations, and workshops teaching strategies how to respond to reviews professionally and in a way that reinforces the company’s brand and attracts prospective renters. It took several years, but it seems we’ve finally embraced the reality, and even the benefit, of participating in the online reputation conversation.
In the background, however, a critical component of your reputation has slowly been exposed. The curtain has been pulled back, and the dirty laundry has been revealed. Residents aren’t the only ones who have been talking about you. Employees have been talking, too. Not only do they have a lot to say, but there is a large audience who is enjoying the show and making decisions about whether they want to audition or exit, stage left.
The World of Company Reviews.
The approach for finding and attracting talent has changed very quickly in the past few years. Recruiters and employers overwhelmingly agree that the job market is candidate-driven, meaning you don’t choose the talent. The talent chooses you. As a result, the way HR teams are utilizing online job search websites has changed. Yes, it’s important to have clear, well-written and compelling job descriptions, but it is the employee-generated company reviews that will capture the attention of job seekers. Just as resident reviews are the best marketing tool or the greatest liability in attracting prospects, employee reviews are the greatest recruiting tool or the biggest red flag in someone’s job search.
To drive the point home, when researching a potential employer, job seekers rank current employees as the most trusted source of information, followed by prospective employees and former employees. A LinkedIn study found that job seekers trust employees 3 times more than the potential employer in getting credible information on what it’s like to work at the company. Glassdoor.com, Indeed.com, and other job search websites now provide an easily accessible venue for employees (and prospective employees who have experienced the company’s hiring process) to share their personal experience regarding the company. This is a familiar framework in our ratings and review driven world. A star-rating is given, along with a written narrative of the personal experience of working for or interviewing with a company.
What’s Your Employer Brand?
“Employer brand” is the term used to describe an organization’s reputation and popularity as an employer in conjunction with, or addition to, its more general corporate brand reputation among customers. When deciding on where to apply for a job, 84% of job seekers say a company’s reputation as an employer is important. This is bad news for the 45% of employers who don’t respond to, or even monitor, their company reviews. The most devastating data indicates that as many as 55% of prospective employees bounce out of the application process after seeing a negative company review. That’s more than half a company’s potential applicant pool! In addition, for the 45% who stay in the application process, numerous studies indicate that companies who do not have a strong brand are overpaying on salaries by 10% or more. This finding is actually consistent with economic theory, which predicts people will accept lower pay in exchange for a positive workplace environment.
Ultimately, your employer brand is your story: what you stand for, who you are, and how your employees experience your culture. Any marketer will tell you that storytelling is the ultimate way to connect with the desired audience, and that is exactly what employees are sharing through their written narratives in company reviews.
Job seekers are very interested in these written narratives, and research has shown that it is the content of the reviews rather than the star-rating that influences a person’s willingness to pursue next steps with a company.
Ignoring It Will Not Make It Go Away
Take a look at Glassdoor.com or Indeed.com, and check out your company reviews. If you currently don’t have a presence or a rating, this is no time to breathe a sigh of relief. Think of it from a potential applicant’s perspective. If there are 5 leasing positions posted, and only two of the companies have any reviews, that applicant will probably apply at those two companies first. With 59 million visitors per month on Glassdoor.com alone, the sheer volume of exposure can’t be dismissed.
As an industry, we learned this lesson with online resident reviews. There is no benefit to turning a blind eye on online reviews. In fact, ignoring reviews can drag a company’s reputation down. This is a prime opportunity to take the lessons learned from engaging with and taking part in the online resident experience conversation and apply them to how we understand, engage with and take part in the online employee experience conversation.
Authentic and effective employer branding begins within the company. By intentionally crafting and improving the employee experience, providing the support and resource to ensure employees have what they need to do their best work, and promoting that employee experience with prospective employees, they will have something engaging and personal and credible to share – which is what reputation is all about.
Here are some steps to take to ensure that you’re embracing and enhancing your Reputation Management 2.0:
- Claim your name
Most job search websites allow you to claim your company page at no cost. Do it. Do it now. Employer brand is an extension of your company brand, so ensure you’re showcasing who you are.
- Evaluate your current reputation
If there are reviews about your company, what common themes come up? Celebrate the pros, and put a plan together to improve the cons. If you’re not seeing the kinds of comments you were expecting, now is the time to take a deeper dive and see where the disconnect is between who you claim to be and who your employees experience you to be.
- Manage your reputation
The same rules apply here as with resident reviews. Ask employees to share their experience. Respond professionally and in a way that will attract prospective employees. Be a diligent participant in the conversation about your organization. Embrace and act on constructive criticism and reinforce and show gratitude for the kudos you receive.
These reviews are not going away anytime soon, so the sooner you jump in, the better position you’ll be in. And guess what? The talent pool is not getting any bigger, so you need every competitive advantage you can get.