In years to come, when we look back and reflect on the impact of the social era, there will be a number of things that we will strongly identify with this period that changed the way we looked at the world, forever. And for me, one of those things will be transparency. If you are based in the UK, you may have seen a short series currently playing on our national channel BBC2 – Robert Preston Goes Shopping. Ok, nothing to do with social, but in the program Robert charts the development of retail in the UK from the post war era to modern day and in doing so highlights just how easy it was as an organisation to control the message in terms of advertising, and influence the general public. It’s not that long ago that communication channels and messages were controlled and manipulated for corporate good, and with the general lack of ability for you and I, as Joe Public, to share experiences, the big boys never had it so good. Basically we had no choice but to believe the bullshit.
But the internet ushered in an era where this control could be undermined. In the early days of the internet, it was still quite limited and only the really forward thinking could see the way chitter chatter on forums and groups would eventually develop into full on, real time conversations where companies, brands and, more recently, employer value propositions would be laid bare. Post social, almost a single tweet can simultaneously build an employer proposition for the smallest organisation yet render the largest ’employer brand’ useless overnight.
We live in a transparent era but in the mid 00’s things were still developing. Sure, the seeds of social were already sown with Twitter launching in 2006 but its purpose and value were yet to be fully understood by the wider masses. At the same time though, some recognised that there was potential to give a voice, albeit anonymously, to those that wanted to speak out. Glassdoor recognised this, going on to build a business from giving employees a voice. At the time it was spot on – building largely on pent up frustration, they opened up and vindicated what many employers had largely writing off as ‘whinging’. And well done to them.
But, alas, life moves on, and at social speed that means things change rapidly. As individual consumers and employees, we have spent over 10 years now sharing our views and, adding generational influences into the mix, what we see now is a population that frankly, doesn’t need or care about anonymity nearly as much. Social, and simply the experience of connecting openly, in real time, across the various platforms has changed things fundamentally.
As a result, for me at least, Glassdoor and its business model is starting to look dated. One look at the site and “Job Ads, Employer profiles” are the order of the day. Even the “Social Recruiting” tab struggles to recognise the shift, with “Job Ads, Recruiting Insights, Post a Job, Display Ads and ATS Integration” as the sub tab choices. Couple that with the lingering anonymity, trip advisor stance to reviews and I’m left thinking that there are better ways to add value to both employer and employee these days.
For example, we now live in an era where unstructured data – conversations, opinions, likes and recommendations – is beginning to demonstrate real value thanks to big data capability. This means that we are starting to see more relevant and valuable insights coming from these open and attributable conversations than we could ever previously get from anonymous reviews. And this is only the beginning. There is a trend towards a much more open, social and ‘values’ based approach to assessing your fit for an organisation where cultural markers are as important, if not more so, than hygiene factors like salary and benefits. This leads to some interesting plays in the technology space that tap into these perhaps more relevant markers.
One example that springs to mind is www.good.co (no disclaimer needed here – I don’t know them, they are not paying me and i don’t own shares!) It’s clearly not the same as Glassdoor. It has a different proposition. But as someone interested in human behaviour and how that can significantly effect the success of an organisation, their personality/cultural led approach is interesting and has potential. I’m keen to see how solutions like these, coupled with those that draw insights from our unstructured chattering’s will re define the relationship between employer and employee.
If any readers of this blog have any interesting tech that fits this mould I would be interested in hearing about it.
Note: This post first appeared on the HRTechEurope blog where I will be part of the blog squad this year for the annual HRTech Europe Conference. Fancy joining me? Then feel free to use my discount code – GM20 – to blag yourself a 20% discount on the ticket price. Look forward to seeing you in Amsterdam!