Candid Glassdoor: Are Employers Manipulating the Site?

The Wall Street Journalconducted a study of Glassdoor’s site. Glassdoor is a site that permits employees (current and former, happy and disgruntled, short- and long-term) to post feedback on their companies. Employers can then respond to that feedback. The WSJ found more than 400 employers with “unusually high single-month increases in positive feedback.” In the positive-surge months, the proportion of positive feedback was different from other months. Sarah E. Needleman, “Glassdoor Operating Chief to be CEO,” Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2019, p. B4.

Christian Sutherland-Wong, just promoted to CEO of Glassdoor from his position as head of operations, believes that there is a problem with employers trying to game the system. He says that “bad actors are always trying to find new ways to get around our system and around our rules.” Suffice it to say that this ops guy is on the case.

There is no limit to the human imagination when it comes to finding way to game measurements. In this case, the gaming was dumb. Just going on the Glassdoor site and loading it up with positive comments was not going to go undetected. The move was hardly shrewd. Beyond the data the WSJ collected, there is the intuitive ability to go on to employer sites and spot the fake posts — themes repeat, praise is over the top, and there is a stark contrast with real employee feedback on specific issues. Spelling and grammatical errors are laced throughout the negative employee feedback.

A word of advice for employers on Glassdoor. Forget gaming the system. Post meaningful responses to what employees say. More importantly, look into the issues that they raise. You can’t manipulate earnings, you can’t manipulate patient queues at the VA, you can’t fake finishes at marathons, you can’t make up new bank accounts, and you can’t pay bribes to get your non-athletic child as a special athlete admit into a top university. The list is much longer, but you get the idea. Sooner or later, someone finds the manipulation. Then you are back to the hard work of getting real earnings, taking care of patients, training for marathons, building customer trust, and studying. Also, the hard work tends to avoid fines, penalties, jail time, and disgrace.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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