Transparent Employer’s Workplace

Employer Branding has taken on greater importance to Human Resources professionals over the past several years as talented job seekers exercise greater discretion in choosing their future employers. The information age has not only made it easier for consumers to research products before they buy, but also for job seekers to research companies before they apply. The best workers are no longer willing to just accept a job at face value. They will use the internet and social media to find out about a company’s workplace from current and former employees. Companies can no longer exaggerate claims about their employer value proposition on their websites, at presentations, or during interviews. Today’s job seekers will use their social networks to quickly verify a company’s claims. No longer can a recruiter or hiring manager simply “sell” only the good aspects of the job or workplace without being questioned by job seekers who want to know how the company is addressing the bad aspects.

For decades, companies have expected and required that job seekers be transparent during the application and interview process. Companies do not mince words when they state that any employment offer is contingent upon successful completion of a background check. It has always been assumed that the potential employee is the only one with the inclination to exaggerate their accomplishments – or flat out lie. For some reason, companies have not been held to the same standard by which they hold job seekers. Job seekers expect companies to be candid about their work environment as well as the duties of the job description. It should be an accepted practice that candidates receiving job offers give employers a document stating that their acceptance of an offer or continued employment is contingent upon a successful background check of the companies’ workplace and job description. Shouldn’t background checks be a two-way street? Many companies embellish job descriptions, career opportunities, and the workplace environment in order to lure top candidates to apply but are not held accountable for any major discrepancies of their claims.

The gap in expectations between job seekers and companies calls for greater transparency from companies regarding their workplace. This includes all of the key metrics used to measure how companies manage, develop, and treat their employees. Social media has already laid bare many of the barriers keeping job seekers from validating whether or not a future employer is being transparent. Even companies have taken advantage of social media to do “inexpensive” background checks on potential employees. Therefore, unflattering information posted online about both job seekers and companies can greatly influence the outcome of the recruitment process. Companies need to produce transparent metrics that objectively measure the statements they make on their websites and during talent acquisition processes. This will allow job seekers to make informed decisions based on objective data. It will also place greater emphasis on a company’s ability to optimize the statistics used to measure their workplace environment. The metrics will be clearly stated in the number of highly qualified applicants and the retention rate of high performance employees.

Workplace Advertising

Great Expectations

The majority of companies do not provide measurable data that corroborates their “sales” pitch to potential employees as a great place to work. While external surveys that measure a company’s employer brand are useful for a company, the prospective candidate or the pending employee has little factual data on an employer’s workplace to analyze prior to accepting a job. Companies exasperate this problem by not being more transparent and sharing the actual internal data of key employer and workplace metrics. In the social media age this is a dangerous practice that could lead to higher recruitment and retention costs. Companies are far more transparent in their annual reports than they are in their workplace reports. Potential investors have loads of quantitative data to pore over; replete with plans and strategies to address pending challenges and future aspirations. But the same does not hold true for potential employees seeking the best work environments in which to invest their knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Gaps in workplace expectations are created at the usual point of origin which is the company’s website. If companies promote and “sell” aspects of their workplace that they really do not value, then they are setting up an expectations gap with potential employees. Information on a company’s website is akin to the information that job seekers put on their rsums in that they are both expected to be truthful and transparent. When information on either of these representations of the company and the job seeker are found to be untrue then both parties will suffer penalties. In the case of the job seeker, he can expect that he will be excluded from further consideration of employment. In the case of the company, it can expect that the job seeker will exclude it from further consideration. In the worse case, a talented new-hire quits the company after a few months because of a company’s workplace misrepresentation. Fifteen years ago an incident of this nature would not get publicized in a way that would affect a company’s employer brand – but things are different in the current social media age.

Social Media Validation

Today’s social media explosion ensures that companies must pay attention to how they treat job seekers throughout the entire lifecycle of the recruitment process and beyond. It has never been easier for job seekers to do thorough background checks on companies that include talking to former employees on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, school alumni networks, etc.) and reading online employer reviews on Glassdoor and Jobitorial. Just as companies analyze rsums and do thorough background checks on potential employees, likewise do the savvy job seekers on the company’s employer brand. And while most companies focus on the known talent acquisition metrics as a measure of success, the metric that should concern them most is the one that cannot be measured – the number of high potential candidates who do not apply (or accept a job offer) because of negative reviews made on social media sites. We no longer live in the time of “Buyer Beware” but the time of “Buyer Aware”.