Glassdoor is a great starting point for employers looking to get a quick, 30,000-ft view of their reputation among current, past and prospective employees. Many TA teams we work with watch their average ratings on a weekly (if not daily basis), and increasingly we’re seeing TA executives having their performance measured in part by their Glassdoor rating.
We often hear things like: “Our goal is to get our Glassdoor rating above 4.0” by the end of the quarter.”
This is a great goal, and while we applaud organizations who take their employer brand reputation this seriously, as data nerds, we also sympathize with the team members who have their performance measured against this metric. Why, you ask?
Average ratings are hard metrics to move.
Say you’re in charge of employer branding for XYZ company. When you took the job, you inherited an aggregate Glassdoor rating of 3.6 (out of 5), with 500 reviews collected to date. In response, you rolled out a number of employee engagement and branding initiatives, perhaps even a shiny new EVP, all designed to create a better experience, and (fingers crossed) higher Glassdoor reviews.
Problem is, three months later, you’ve collected a few dozen additional reviews, yet your average Glassdoor rating is still just 3.7 — so things seem to be trending in the right direction, but a tenth of a rating point is hard to get excited about, and your boss isn’t likely to be impressed.
Does this mean your new EVP has fallen flat? And perhaps more importantly, how do you put these numbers in context when it comes time for your annual performance review?
Getting Beyond Averages
To get a clearer read on near-term effects of new employee engagement and branding initiatives, we encourage our clients to look at the actual distribution of their Glassdoor ratings in discrete time periods instead of relying solely on aggregate averages. What do we mean by “distribution”? The actual percentage of reviews that fall into each star level. For example, continuing the example above, we know the initial average rating was 3.6, but how does it breakout?
While the averages across all reviews (the default metric shown in Glassdoor) tell the same “flat” story, by looking at the distribution we’ve discovered that the 3 months since the new EVP was unveiled were actually a very dynamic time for XYZ company’s employer brand. Specifically, the percentage of reviews with positive sentiment (“top two box”) grew from 54% to 68% — a 14 pt increase!
During the same time, we also see an increase in the percentage of reviews with negative sentiment (“bottom two box”), from 14% to 22%.
What’s going on here? It seems the new EVP may be polarizing — that is strongly attracting (or pleasing) certain talent, and strongly repelling others. As it often the case with strongly polarized rating data, the average barely moved, but the distribution shifted quite dramatically.
And this may actually be a great thing for the XYZ company employer brand. Why? Strong employer brands are authentic employer brands, which means they unapologetically communicate what it’s like to work at a company, including both the good and the bad. By not sugar-coating the bad parts, you’re likely to attract the personality types that thrive in your environment, and yes, actively repel the 1 and 2-star folks who aren’t likely to stay to see their 1-year anniversary.
Returning to our example, perhaps XYZ company’s new EVP is all about intense work days, and the rewards of working with other passionate people in the industry who are dedicated to bringing best-in-class products and services to market. If this were the case, we might expect to see just the kind of rating polarization evidenced above, and would help our clients dig further into their “Work/Life Balance” and “Culture/Value” ratings on Glassdoor to see if they support this hypothesis.
Armed with this knowledge, it’s much easier to make the case to executives that not only is the new EVP not falling flat, but it’s actually doing just what it should: increasing brand affinity among talent who are most likely to be happy at XYZ and stay wit the company for years to come.
We’re Here to Help
Need help understanding your organization’s Glassdoor rating? We know how to get beyond averages and uncover hidden insights that may be telling a misleading story. Contact us today.