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These Are the 3 Biggest Trends in Workforce Innovation

Keeping up with the changing world requires constant innovation — and this includes hiring. Evolving technology, the shifting generational makeup of the workforce, and a candidate-centric market[...]

February 18, 2020

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Glassdoor Five-Star Reviews Can Help You Attract Top Millennial Talent

Employment branding

The Internet has given everyone a voice -- a platform for praise and dissent that people take seriously. Consider how many times you may have avoided an eatery or local retailer because of unfavorable reviews on Yelp. Today’s workplace is no different. Traditional marketing efforts have focused on creating evocative advertising campaigns -- slick iconography, catchy songs and visceral imagery -- to connect consumers with a company’s brand: its core products and services and how it proposes to deliver them. For prospective employees, however, this kind of branding holds less value than it does to potential customers.

According to research conducted by LinkedIn, “a company’s employer brand is twice as likely to drive job consideration as its company brand.” Many factors contribute to an employer’s reputation with talent these days: best practices in hiring processes, robust training programs, competitive pay, a focus on career development initiatives, and maintaining a productive and cohesive business culture. 

Social media sites also make a huge impact on perceptions. Where venues such as Yelp guide the decisions of consumers, sites like Glassdoor create lasting impressions -- good and bad -- about an employer’s brand.

Your story and your storytellers

As a hiring manager or recruiting professional, you want to represent your company as a sort of vocational El Dorado -- a magical destination at the end of the ideal candidate’s quest. However, becoming a magnet that attracts top talent requires more than developing compelling recruitment collateral, alluring career pages or hip, memorable handbooks like Valve’s or The Motley Fool’s -- although these things are critical, too. The most powerful testaments to your employment brand come from the stories your workers share. Engaged and satisfied employees are the most trusted brand ambassadors your organization can showcase to prospective talent. Nothing promotes your company’s values as intimately or convincingly as the people who work there.

For many job seekers, particularly younger and media-savvy Millennials, Glassdoor tops the list among the most visited, reviewed and influential online resources for their employment considerations.

Software Advice, a trusted software research and advisory company under the Gartner umbrella, recently analyzed the top-rated employers listed on Glassdoor and discovered that only 37 of the 147,071 employers on the site had attained a five-star rating. What makes Software Advice’s research relevant and meaningful is that it reveals the underlying qualities that contribute to successful employer branding.

The company also adopted an innovative approach by studying Glassdoor. As the report’s author, Erin Osterhaus, noted: “None of the companies with five-star Glassdoor ratings would have fit the criteria for Fortune’s list -- 47 percent were less than five years old, and none had more than 500 employees.” To earn a spot on Fortune’s coveted “100 Best Companies to Work For” list, an organization must be at least five years old and have more than 1,000 U.S. employees. The criteria make the list decidedly limited, excluding smaller employers that may have, as the Glassdoor study illustrates, exceptional employment brands.

The interesting upside to this bias toward newer or less familiar firms, Osterhaus shows, is that these are precisely the types of organizations that appeal to Millennials: “Recent research has shown that 47 percentof Gen Y or ‘millennial’ workers choose to be employed at small companies. And looking at analyses of Web traffic to the site, almost half of all visitors to Glassdoor (47 percent, again) are millennials; i.e. in the 18-34 age range. As such, Glassdoor is an excellent opportunity for fledgling companies to recruit emerging young talent.”

Key findings

In poring over the Glassdoor reviews, Software Advice sought to identify the most lauded characteristics of the top-ranked companies, as well as those areas determined to be opportunities for improvement. This is what they uncovered.

Top-rated companies are newer and smaller

• Nearly three-quarters of the top-rated companies were founded in the past 10 years, while 90 percent employed 149 employees or less.
• Because many of these businesses were new and growing, top pain points cited by reviewers included long working hours and high-pressure environments.
• Most reviewers were also new or in the early stages of their careers, with 43 percent having tenure of less than a year. Because Millennials pioneered the social media revolution and are the most likely generation of workers to post feedback on sites such as Glassdoor, this shouldn’t seem surprising.

Culture and teamwork matter

• A feeling of camaraderie among employees was the most-cited positive aspect of working at these top-rated companies.
• Great benefits and stellar perks failed to capture the excitement of most reviewers; the support of colleagues and a culture of unity topped the list.
• About “38 percent of reviewers brought up the importance of their team in some form. And though benefits such as unlimited vacation and 401(k)s or such perks as free food and social events were mentioned occasionally, these attributes were often listed as afterthoughts.”
• Previous research by Software Advice to determine the traits that drive young talent to companies supported these findings. In a survey of 1,355 Gen Y candidates, the most cited attributes of engaging employment brands were positive and friendly environments, meaningful and fulfilling work, and opportunities for career development and advancement.

The top qualities of five-star companies

In examining the top 10 attributes of the highest-rated companies, these aspects of the employer’s brand emerged as recurring themes:

1. A sense of team orientation and camaraderie
2. Professional development opportunities
3. Meaningful work
4. Supportive management
5. Benefits
6. Compensation
7. Learning opportunities
8. Hard work
9. Intelligent co-workers
10. Transparency

It’s important to note that benefits and compensation, though positioned in the middle of the list, remain undeniable motivators for talent. Too often, industry media like to portray good pay and benefits as somehow negligible in a candidate’s decision to sign on with a company. In response to a recent article in ERE, which emphasized the attraction of “simple perks” over money, the author of the Medieval Recruiter blog offered an astute comment: “Pizza on Wednesdays and other near zero cost ‘benefits’ are not going to solve the problems most employers have. They need to bite the bullet and realize their employees want real benefits and decent wages, not half-hearted excuses to try and make up for the last three rounds of layoffs and pay cuts.”

The report from Software Advice does an excellent job of showing the reality of the situation from both sides of the fence:

• Yes, financial remuneration is not the deciding factor in a worker’s choice of employers.
• Meaningful incentives woven into the fabric of a company’s culture, along with its commitments to employees (monetary or otherwise), help create the strongest employment brands. “Clearly, employees valued the non-material aspects of working for a company more than the perks and freebies,” Software Advice’s analysis concluded.
• Yet when all is said and done, a competitive salary and sustainable benefits still factor into 50 percent of the top attributes.

Even the areas that reviewers described as in need of improvement stemmed from what many business leaders would call “good problems to have” -- the companies were growing rapidly.

In Software Advice’s report, Osterhaus observed that “the most common difficulty employees noted was that the company was experiencing ‘growing pains.’ This term encompassed the need to hire more employees, as well as the need to more clearly define future business strategies.” Issues of pay, benefits, communications and office location sat at the bottom of the list.

Software Advice’s conclusion

Achieving a perfect rating remains a rarity on Glassdoor; nevertheless, it should be a prize that every brand-conscious employer fights to claim. For organizations looking to bolster their employment brand, Software Advice recommends that they focus on the top attributes praised by reviewers and learn from the successful outcomes of those companies.

“Fostering a culture of teamwork and collaboration and offering professional development opportunities can not only help you find talented new hires -- it can also make your company a better place to work. If you already have these elements in place, encourage employees to express their views of the company on review sites such as Glassdoor. As a result, you may see a spike not only in the quantity of applicants, but also the quality—especially if you’re seeking to attract millennial workers.”

Other helpful insights for strengthening employment brands

There are a variety of ways that businesses can capitalize on a positive employer brand. If employee satisfaction is high and workers are evangelizing the company, encourage them to share their experiences as part of your talent marketing efforts.

For companies just beginning employment branding initiatives, consulting with staffing professionals can make the process painless and effective. Recruiters have evolved into employment brand experts -- to source superior talent, they must help their MSPs or direct clients develop engaging brands. Staffing curators are masters at social networking. Tapping into their skills and experiences can help you build an ideal employment brand. Here are just a few of the ways elite staffing curators accomplish these goals for their customers:

• They profile employee success stories in promotional materials. It’s easier to gain familiarity and trust from a brand that’s represented by a human face.
• They curate employee-created content on blog posts, images and videos, and incorporate these media into their clients’ career portal pages. Allowing existing talent to participate as vital contributors to this kind of marketing demonstrates a spirit of inclusion, collaboration and recognition that speaks volumes to an organization’s employment brand.
• They draw talent even closer by providing them with content to share on their personal social networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

We encourage everyone to read the full report from Software Advice, which includes all charts, findings and methodologies used in the analysis.

Sunil Bagai
Sunil Bagai
Sunil is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, thought leader and influencer who is transforming the way companies think about and acquire talent. Blending vision, technology and business skills honed in the most innovative corporate environments, he has launched a new model for recruitment called Crowdstaffing which is being tapped successfully top global brands. Sunil is passionate about building a company that provides value to the complete staffing ecosystem including clients, candidates and recruiters.
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