Looking Beyond the Glass Door – HR Managing Transparency

People Science Reimagining Talent Acquisition

Looking Beyond the Glass Door

HR Managing Transparency

A Interview, Conversation, and “How To”

With Will Marzullo, VP Global Talent 2020 Companies

 and Christine Nichlos, CEO People Science

It used to be, a person looking for a position, now known as a job seeker, would obtain their information about prospective hiring companies by word of mouth, knowing someone who knew someone…., by their annual report, or just assuming ideas about the company based on their brand – “A Coke and a Smile”.

Today, virtually every company is virtually visible.   This new reality that we are just at the beginning of understanding is already having a major impact on job seekers and employees alike.  Albeit good or bad, sites such as Yahoo Messenger, Indeed, Google Search, and of course Glassdoor, have become the go to resources for information.

The Evolution of Corporate Transparency

Christine:  Will, you and your talent team have really embraced corporate transparency in and around the recruitment channel.  Where or how should a HR Pro get started?

Will: First,- realize that there is no going back.  As the graph identifies, we are moving further and further towards full disclosure of our companies.  Putting your head in the sand, hoping it will clear up or just go away, at this point, could very well be detrimental to an organization as a whole.  I started really considering transparency as a job seeker.  When I found myself combing the internet for possible employers, I began to realize the amount of information and opinions that were available helped me determine where I might be interested in working and just as important, where I would not be interested in working.

Some of the things discovered were that the company’s brand and culture were coming through clearly.

Brand and Culture

Will: As a seeker, I wasn’t sure if the company was living up to what it was communicating but it was hard not to convince myself that the message they were sending was accurate, unless I had confirmed reasons to believe they were not.  So, their brand was being communicated and unless I had firsthand knowledge to counter act it, I was buying into it.

Christine: So, for example, if a fast food restaurant chain was sending the message that they employ service oriented staff and offer healthy food options, but my experience with them was the opposite

 I would question their authenticity as I have had the opposite experience. However, if I had no knowledge to the contrary, I would be more susceptible to believing their advertised brand and culture. 


Will: Yes.  And in my search there were companies that through first and second hand experience I was not interested in exploring.  In these cases, their reputation preceded my consideration.  Now, and as we will discuss later, this reputation could be addressed and possibly improved on with a good transparent strategy.

Thinking like a consumer…..

Christine: Speaking as a consumer, I have been purchasing from the internet for quite some time, however, although I read product and service reviews I seldom supplied them.  I’m not exactly sure why and how, but suddenly I have started writing reviews.  Much in part because sites like Amazon and Glassdoor are convincing me through their active campaigns to give my opinion.

Will: That’s exactly it.  When searching for a job, I was a seeker, a consumer.  Once employed, that experience led me to view 2020’s reputation very differently.  Today, we try to think like our customers and our applicants when building our transparency strategy and in our execution.

Power balance shifting from 100% employer

Christine: So, in your opinion does this start to point towards a shift in the power structure of employment in general?  It’s not only job seekers, but message boards like Yahoo Messenger and Glassdoor that supply a place where current employees can anonymously vent both good and bad.  Are these sites taking the place of the employee suggestion box?  Are employees becoming more and more empowered to influence the company’s policies, procedures, offerings and general overall viability?

Will:  Definitely.  We no longer live in an era where employers hold 100% of the power.  Transparency is starting to help tip the employer driven job environment a least a little more towards empowering internal staff and potential new hires.

Christine:  And, on that note, negative comments always seem to come first and people naturally gravitate towards the negative first.  Additionally, negative comments are more believable than positive comments.  After all, corporations are not likely to create negative comments but very likely to, incognito of course, create their positive comments.  

Transparency in our corporations is a lot to tackle and frankly for most, a ground breaking idea.

So tell us, how did you get started, how are you doing now, and what can you recommend our readers/listeners get started to take advantage of this today’s growing transparency?

2020’s Strategy around Transparency

Will:  The Strategy includes the following:

  • Who in the company should be involved?
  • Who is supplying information?
  • Where can this information be found?
  • Who and how will this be managed?

Who should be involved?

Everyone in the company should care what is being said about the company.  From the CEO to the Janitor, everyone in the company is dependent on its reputation.  What is being said or not said?  What is the rating of your CEO on Glassdoor?  Do they know they are being evaluated?

This is an excellent opportunity to get department heads involved.  Everyone wants to know what is being said about them.  HR can vet out different comments and help ascertain what departments or who within departments are being commented about.  Using outside perspectives to tell stories is a valuable way to start discussions about what is really happening, measure it against what you want to happen and gain buy in.

Marketing or whoever is at the forefront of your brand messaging should be interested, engaged, and listening closely.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  Here you can get direct feedback about how your brand and culture match others perspectives.

Certainly, the entire talent team should be keeping an eye out.  Especially, on Glassdoor where it is easy for candidates to comment on their interview experience, as well as, their overall candidate experience.What is important is to assure all your stakeholders are educated in the evolution towards total transparency and the role everyone has to play in it.

Where is the information coming from?

HR should spend a good amount of time establishing where comments are coming from now and where they might be coming from in the near future.  It’s surprising what you can find just by Googling your company with something like, “What’s it like to work at 2020 companies?” or employee reviews of 2020 companies.  You may very well see many comments beyond the expected Glassdoor.com.  Make sure to consider all potential feedback and all the places they can pop up. There are many business rating sites to watch – Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Indeed.   Here are the broad strokes:

  • Prioritize: Glassdoor is the most transparent tool. Then, in order: LinkedIn, Indeed, and Facebook through social conversation.-  Watch those follower/friend driven sites like Twitter & Facebook; their numbers can help or hinder depending on their impression of you.
  • Devise the smartest responses to repair negative feelings.
  • Manage them the best you can, responding to all you come across. Thank those who submit the positive. Sympathetically- ask for more information/-details from people submitting negative comments that maybe valid.
  • Realistically look at the feedback.- Pay attention to reoccurring negative trends, that angry comment may help you uncover something wrong in your organization. What you learn can help you to become a better employer. If we don’t learn from our mistakes and show “readers” we are making an effort we could lose the potential new talent we are looking for.

Bottom Line- It’s out there, so, find it, read it and do something!  This new age of corporate transparency can help us with Marketing/- Employment Branding. Not ignoring the criticism can give you a leg up on your competition.

Who and How will the information be managed?

Previously, most disgruntled feelings were vented at the exit interview and didn’t leak much farther than that. Now, everything is out in the open and there are many internet vehicles one can use to spread the word of a bad experience. It is very important to respond, showing others you put care and effort into defending your brand.

Dedicate resources to monitor social media, compile feedback, and report findings to the top department heads up to the CEO to review and coordinate action. Glassdoor not only rates your company, but can also rate the CEO.

Specifically for Glassdoor:

Create a profile; be aware of your title because it will show on your responses.  *Respond to all comments.  Try to get as much information as possible from disgruntled writers who are almost always anonymous.  Attempt to get them on the phone to learn as much about their bad experience as possible.  Be sure to act on your findings.  Have the corresponding department head respond, if appropriate, to show they are truly being heard.

It’s not PR, but this shows the public we are stewards of our culture and we care. Responding gracefully to Glassdoor ratings and comments are all you can really do.

Christine: So, tell us about your results.

Will: The results of these efforts are not easily measured in a traditional sense.  The improvement in your Glassdoor rating and increase of positive feedback posted from potential, current, and past employees are a good way to scale your success.

To our knowledge, we have not lost a candidate because of our ratings and comments. All of this sounds like a lot, but really it does not take much time especially if you compare it to the value of your reputation, brand, culture, potential new hires and, possibly even, current employee retention rates.

The Value Ads of staying ahead of the Transparency Curve

Christine:  So far, we have spoken a lot about the realization, the dangers and the management of transparency in our organizations.  But, as we are just at the tip of this giant iceberg, staying ahead of this offers a great deal of value to the early adapters.

Consider the following:

  • Information companies traditionally found through surveys and marketing companies is now readily available
  • The amount of information available is much greater
  • Upper Management can learn much more than they do from the employee suggestions box or “walking the floor”
  • Real concerns and challenges can be uncovered
  • When what a company truly is about becomes common knowledge: challenges can be addressed, wrongs righted, and brands matched with reality

Will, any final words?

  • Embrace the reality of Transparency and get ahead of the curve
  • Staying ahead of the curve means:

– Buying in

– Observing

– Leveraging

-Capitalizing on it

We really are at the tip of this giant opportunity!


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