Anyone can have a voice online!
Not so long ago, image management and reputation were the domain of the Board, the CEO, Corporate Affairs or the PR Agency.
However today, the internet provides the opportunity for anyone to have a voice online and therefore sway the opinion of readers.
Because we live in a quick sound byte era, everyone is now placing increased weight on anonymous reviews and rankings of all sorts of things without caring whose voices are behind those reviews and rankings.
User Generated Content
User Generated Content (UGC) is not a new phenomenon. You are probably familiar with sites that rely on UGC.
- If you are looking for a restaurant in your local area, look no further than Tripadvisor or Yelp for UGC ratings and reviews.
- If you are interested in a movie, then you might draw on the UGC rankings and reviews on IMDb or Rottentomatoes.
- Keen on buying an app from iTunes or Google Play? You might have made your mind up about parting with your $2 because of the UGC rankings on that app.
New Frontier of UGC: Employer Ratings
One of the newest frontiers of UGC is the anonymous ranking by former employees of their prior employers.
So it is no longer just restaurants, movies or apps that are being ranked. It’s now employers whose employer brands are being praised and buoyed or trashed and exposed online.
Regardless of whether the content is accurate or not, these employer ranking UGC sites play on the adage that ‘perception is reality.’ What visitors read about your business is the perception that they form of your employer brand.
Online reputation and branding is becoming increasingly central to the ongoing sustainability of any employer in the future.
Like it or not, with the openness of the internet, UGC is a fact of life. While there have been moves to regulate UGC and improve on its authenticity, it will probably take many years for this to happen, if any regulation happens at all.
Mitch Joel, the author of 'Six Pixels of Separation' wrote ‘Your brand is not what you say it is, it’s what Google says it is. That’s your digital footprint.’
And this increasingly applies to your employer brand and reputation.
So what can you do about this?
Like it or not, these employer ranking UGC sites are gaining traction online. They therefore have the potential to sway perception and opinions of all sort of stakeholders, including customers, employees, future talent and shareholders.
Employers therefore need to seriously consider how they behave towards their employees throughout the entire employee life cycle.
This means onboarding employees successfully; providing them with ongoing training, development and career pathing; as well as treating exiting employees with dignity and respect.
Moreover, treating all employees with dignity and respect is not only morally and ethically right, but it makes sound business sense. Especially in the context that that anyone has the potential to have a loud voice online.
Those employers who treat all departing staff with dignity and respect — even those who do not perform well — appear to be in the box seat to receive good karma points online.
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