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Corporate culture and leadership are rated and commented on publicly – so how’s your brand looking?

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Image credit: Claus Grunstaudl

With the rise of online job search platforms such as Glassdoor that include a review of the company by employees, businesses and leadership teams are challenged like never before, not only to be vigilant with their reputation but to strive for an excellent culture that employees rave about.

If you didn’t realise that your corporate culture is transparent online, you are in a lot of danger if you don’t act immediately. A 1-minute read gives me powerful insights into employees’ perceptions of a workplace culture with words like ‘dynamic’, ‘flexible’ and ‘very friendly’… but also words like ‘bureaucracy’, ‘demoralising’ and ‘nepotism’.

Even if you are not advertising jobs on sites like this, don’t assume that your culture or leadership style isn’t being publicly ‘reviewed’. With almost all your employees and past employees on social media, using it daily with – for the most part – a very porous filter applied to post choices, there is a great risk that, even having to read between the lines, one can easily see what people really think about your company. Social media account privacy being the joke that it is, this information is there for all the world to see.

Need to protect or enhance your reputation? Have goals to attract the best talent? Trying to build a trustworthy, professional, positive brand? Working actively on culture, while also considering how your culture is represented online, are now imperative.

The power of one

One thing that is apparent in reading online reviews is just how much one manager’s style can colour an employee’s perception of an entire organisation. While most people can see that one individual’s experience and relationship with a manager will not necessarily be another’s, it naturally sets off alarm bells that are hard to ignore. Of course, there are important implications here for clarity in corporate values, recruitment, expectations and training at management level, but also in developing staff awareness of how their reputations – and by extension, that of the company – are magnified online.

The long-term effects of first impressions

Even if the reader of a negative review goes for the job all the same and happily accepts when offered the position, will they be going into the new job with a ‘clean slate’ of expectations, ready to be open-minded, give people the benefit of the doubt, communicate openly… or will they go in with a guard up that has the potential to limit their performance and that of their team?

I believe the transparency of leadership brands and company culture in the online space is a good thing – it demands that everyone does a better job. While it certainly makes things more challenging for businesses, for those that take culture and brand seriously and are prepared to do the work, it should mean a stronger and better-performing business in the long run.

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