Rating employers is not a new idea. Vault has (profile; site) been doing it for years and for pay. There’s JobVent, which has an 11 point rating system and the ability to leave comments. Jobster (profile; site) has a feature where employees can talk about what it’s like working for their company. F–ked Company used to have the dirt on all sorts of companies until it got, you know.
So when we came across the announcement of CorporateGrade.com we were admittedly underwhelmed. But considered from the standpoint of it being part of a trend, the site takes on greater importance.
CorporateGrade.com is new and in beta, so it doesn’t have much in the way of content yet. But it’s easy to use and has a good bit of sophistication. Ratings can be anonymous, although the registration process does require a valid email address. Not that that’s going to deter bitter employees or ex-workers or even just someone out to sully a company. While that’s often the first objection raised by company officials (only the disgruntled participate in these sites), we found just the opposite to be true. CorporateGrade’s first participants appear to be a balanced lot, providing a good glimpse of life inside a company, a division or the office where they work.
Ratings have been around even before the Internet. But those were either compiled by an ambitious author (Places Rated Almanac, for example) or were limited surveys. The Internet expanded the reach, and opened the door to anyone who wanted to participate. Today, ratings have become so available and influential that a very high percentage of consumers both consult product reviews before making a buying decision and are influenced by what they read. Social media is increasingly exerting both an influence on decision-making and providing a way for consumers to offer feedback.
A single negative rating may have a negligible impact. (Or not. Remember the story of Night Clerk Mike?) But a company whose corporate culture doesn’t match its branding efforts is in jeopardy of being bypassed by top talent.
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“… There is a growing group of highly desirable consumers using social media to research companies: 25- to 55-years old, college-educated, earning $100,000+ – a very powerful group in terms of buying behavior,” says Dr. Ganim Nora Barnes, senior fellow, Society for New Communications Research. She was talking about the study we referenced above. But her comment that “These most savvy and sought after consumers will not support companies with poor customer care reputations, and they will talk about all of this openly with others via multiple online vehicles” could just as easily apply to top talent.
Says Karin Lash, regional director, interactive strategy for TMP Worldwide, “Social media today allows unprecedented access to employees in your organization. So if you put a message out there and that experience is not the reality folks are going to find out very quickly.”
Think that’s just so much marketing theory? Here’s what a self-described employee at a Kaiser Permanente wrote on CorporateGrade.com about her workplace: “Kaiser is a good company but it’s just a name. Don’t go into a job there thinking about the name, it presents with just as many issues as the next.”