Companies & Gossip
One definition of Gossip is “a form of communications that an individual(s) participates in for the purpose of discussion, or passing onto to others, hearsay information.”
In the past year, several new sites and apps have been created to “modernize office gossip.” Memo recently celebrated its one year anniversary serving employees who want to post messages to their employers anonymously. The difference between Memo and other office gossip sites is that “Memo users have to verify their affiliation with a company before they’re allowed to post in a company group. Founder Ryan Janssen calls this ‘defined identity’ rather than anonymity — users either have to connect their LinkedIn account or have an email sent to their company email to be verified, but then Memo deletes any identifying information, and users can post anonymously to their company group.” It has been reported by Memo that the app has helped employees vent emotions in real time. Many companies have moved to block the app from employees.
In 2008, I wrote a blog about the more “traditional” office gossip sites have been go-to web pages for job seekers and curious corporate leaders. The blog is as relevant today as it was seven years ago. Let me know what YOU think!
Popular company gossip sites are: Glassdoor.com and Vault.com. Many civil engineers are visiting the sites and writing, some say “critiquing”, the civil engineering firms that they currently work for or have worked. These sites allow employees to anonymously post information about company interview processes, company culture, specific management styles, benefits, salaries, bonuses, work space and anything you can think to comment about. Comments range from “great company with strong benefits” to “avoid manager of highway design, based in corporate office, as he micro manages.”
Should companies be concerned? Yes. Should employees take the time to comment on their company’s culture, management style, benefits, salaries, etc. Sure. Should job seekers review these sites. Yes, with caution.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Should companies be concerned?
Initially it seemed these sites were just a place to just let it all out. These sites have now evolved to include happy, satisfied employee reviews of their employers, as well as the direct, not so positive critiques. Companies need to regularly monitor these sites and make sure that information posted is relevant and not just a disgruntled employee looking to slam the company. Companies can use the information as informal employee surveys — a way to take a pulse from the anonymous group. That being said, anonymous reviews should be read with a questionable eye. I’ll address this again under the value of these sites to job seekers.
Should employees take the time to comment on companies?
Yes, if you, as an employee, can write an honest evaluation of your current or past employer then you should. Discuss the interview process, company culture, benefits, bonuses, etc. Is your work space comfortable? Does the company encourage and pay for additional training? Do they encourage involvement in professional associations? What did you want to know about a company before you joined them? Try to be constructive, but honest, in your critique.
Should job seekers review these sites?
Yes, as long as you understand that what you are reading may be incorrect. Anonymous reviews are questionable — not necessarily false. Many of these sites have built-in systems to weed out false reviews. Site editors review comments for trends and inconsistent information. So, job seekers shouldn’t avoid a company that receives some negative comments. Instead, they should use these reviews to prepare for interviews at the companies. Compare feedback on multiple sites, talk to alumni from your school who may be at the mentioned company. Do your homework. These sites should be viewed just as another tool for gathering information and preparing for interviews.
Can you recall the children’s game “Pass It On?” Rarely does the comment at the start of the game end up as the same comment at the end of the game. Remember, not only are there at least two sides to every story….those stories over time aren’t always remembered accurately!