If you’ve ever wondered what goes on in the inner sanctum of a prospective employer or wondered how your salary compares with others in your field, a new Web site launched Tuesday could have the answer.
The site, Glassdoor.com, allows current and recent former employees to anonymously report their salaries; provide detailed company reviews and rate their workplaces and management teams.
“Glassdoor’s employee-generated content provides a level of transparency in the two key drivers of employee motivation — compensation and culture — that is not available from any other source. Our beta launch is just the first step toward Glassdoor becoming the TripAdvisor of the workplace,” Robert Hohman, CEO of Glassdoor.com explained.
Retail Reviews Go Corporate
Hohman founded the site in 2007. Before the beta launched, the site had collected nearly 3,300 company reviews and compensation information from employees at more than 250 companies including Cisco, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.
“Work matters a great deal to our daily lives, yet detailed information about jobs and employers is still hard to find. We’ve built Glassdoor to make it easier for anyone to peek inside the walls of a prospective employer — or even the next cubicle — to get information that will foster more productive conversations and lead to better career decisions,” Hohman said.
The site offers users a quid pro quo arrangement to access its content. The deal allows users to read reviews free of charge, but users must submit an evaluation of their current or past employer.
Glassdoor.com guarantees anonymity for its users and the site also allows others to provide no-name-required feedback and comments on reviews left by other on the site. Features on the site include “watch an employer” alerts that notify users when a new review or salary has been posted for a specific company. In addition, Glassdoor.com offers more than 40,000 pre-loaded company profiles. If an employer is not included in the database, users can add their company.
In the 24 hours since the site’s roll out Wednesday, Glassdoor.com has amassed more than 10,000 new salary reports and reviews and is well on its way to 15,000 with 3,000 more companies added to the 250 the site started with, Hohman noted.
“This is another way to bring reviews to the Web, now it’s corporate reviews — provided users trust the reviewers and the content of each review helps it stand on its own,” said Gene Alvarez, a Gartner Research analyst.
The site gives companies an opportunity to learn the truth about employee morale, according to Hohman. Businesses and managers can use this real-time barometer to gauge employee satisfaction and, if they find it lagging, use the data to make necessary changes.
The site also invites official company representatives from human resources, management and internal communication departments to participate in its employer advisory panel. There they can preview new features and participate in periodic surveys and focus groups.
Companies, however, will more than likely not be happy to have their employees posting candid reviews of them on the Web, said Gartner’s Alvarez.
“It’ll be interesting to watch GlassDoor over time and see how corporations respond,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
The real challenge will be ensuring that the reviews are trustworthy, Alvarez said.
“You’re offering them the ability to do this anonymously. Once you do that, you open the door for fraudulent activity,” he pointed out.
The site is “a fabulous idea that takes advantage of Web 2.0 and the wisdom of crowds,” according to Lisa Rowan, an IDC analyst. However, she echoed Alvarez’s concerns about how the site will ensure the validity of user-submitted information.
“It is extremely clever. My big questions are how are they going to make money on it. And how are they going to verify that the information they have is accurate if in fact they plan to sell the salary data to employers?” she told the E-Commerce Times.
“The issue I have is that if I were going to go by a site like this, how well audited is it? Do they call companies to see if these salaries are true?” she said, adding that some of the salaries on the site’s home page seem a little low.
Truthiness in Reviews?
Registering and submitting information to the site requires a valid and verified e-mail address. Before an evaluation is posted, it is read by a Glassdoor.com team member to ensure that it meets the site’s guidelines and does not compromise a user’s anonymity. The site also takes precautions to make sure disgruntled employees do not try to game the Glassdoor system.
“As with most online communities, we also rely heavily on the input and feedback from members to identify inappropriate or bogus information. While a member’s identity is never revealed to the Glassdoor community, the company requires a valid and verified e-mail address in order to register and submit survey data, and equally important, this lends itself to ensuring credible and relevant information is available on our site,” Hohman told the E-Commerce Times.
If the site can ensure the veracity of the reviews, then it’s a great tool for companies to gauge the mood among their employees, Alvarez stated.
“[Companies and managers] will want to use it as a way to ensure that what they’re gut is telling you matches [employee attitudes]. If compensation is the issue, then maybe they say ‘we have great people. I don’t want to lose them. Maybe we do have to look at our salary plans,'” he continued.
“It serves the prospective job candidate because they can investigate a company,” said Rowan. “If you get what feels like relatively honest viewpoints on an employer. The unanswered question is whether the site will attract as many employees that are happy as it will disgruntled employees,” she continued.
“If a company gets good reviews that helps them in recruiting, saving them time as they try to fill positions. We don’t know how it will work because it is so early, but it is fascinating and pretty darn unique,” Rowan concluded.