If you check out a company’s profile on Glassdoor, one of the first things you see is the CEO approval rating. As an HR leader, this is a number that I was always concerned with as a signal for overall employee satisfaction. It’s common to hear stories about CEO approval in the news, and all of us have an opinion about our current and past leaders at the top of the organizational hierarchy.

But what goes into that measurement and how do company decisions affect the ratings?


Until now, most of the information in this area has been ad hoc or anecdotal. We’ve all seen the dozens of business books that tell us the secrets to success at a wide variety of companies. But Glassdoor has been able to gather enough data to show true, causal links between CEO approval and areas like culture, benefits, and work/life balance.

In this episode of We’re Only Human, I interview Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Chief Economist at Glassdoor. Andrew and I discuss the links between CEO approval and executive compensation, what it means to be a founder versus an externally hired CEO, and what really matters to employees when it comes to rating the performance of their leaders. I hope you enjoy the conversation!

If you like audio content focused on HR, talent, and the workplace, be sure to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour podcast network on iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcasting app to catch new episodes of my show and all of the other exciting shows on the HR Happy Hour channel.

One of the scariest parts of having a great culture is the fear that it will shift and change in negative ways as the company grows. I can remember talking with Atlassian earlier this year, an organization that has an enviable culture and has leveraged it for incredible success. Every team at Atlassian has a person dedicated to defending the culture from poor fit hires, and these culture stewards can veto any hiring decision at any level. That’s an excellent way to help protect the culture as the organization scales up, but it’s not the only method for making it work. Today at the 2016 Glassdoor Summit, one presenter offered some amazing advice that is worth exploring.

Note: you can catch the livestream of the entire conference for free online

So far at the event we’ve heard from several speakers, including CEO of Glassdoor, Robert Hohman, about the value of transparency into culture. One quote this morning was particularly hard-hitting for me, and it came from Katie Burke, VP of Culture and Experience at Hubspot.

After talking about culture and the role of transparency, Katie threw out the quote above. I also believe the idea that acting on employee-generated ideas is one of the greatest ways to scale culture.

When we look at how culture is misrepresented in the media on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that HR leaders are craving a more concrete option for creating and scaling a culture that truly embodies the values and beliefs of the organization. Pick up any magazine or read any news article and you’ll quickly see that culture is purely about ping pong tables, free beer in the office fridge, and dog-friendly work spaces.

But as HR and talent leaders chase that elusive goal, they quickly become disillusioned and believe that this “culture” thing is just for the Googles and Ubers of the world.

As I pointed out in a recent Lighthouse blog around killing the traditional performance management approach, it’s critical for companies to point out culture in behavioral terms so that people have a concrete idea of what culture really means. But what about this concept of innovation, especially the type that is employee-driven?

Innovation, Engagement, and Culture

Innovation is not a new topic, but it’s one that is not often discussed in relation to the way we engage employees. The people throughout the organization are closest to the work, and they often have the best ideas for how to innovate and create new value. Therefore, innovation can be used as a valuable metric of engagement.

How many employee-generated ideas do you implement in a given year? One? One hundred? One thousand? Because it matters to your employees, and it’s an opportunity to improve business performance.

Last year I read The Idea-Driven Organization and thoroughly enjoyed the book. The main concept was the power of listening to employee suggestions, giving them serious consideration, and implementing them when feasible.

It’s fundamental, really. We all know that we should be listening to our employees. That goes without saying. However, the next step is actively soliciting input and then acting upon it. Instead of ignoring or fearing employee input, go the extra mile to encourage them to provide suggestions. The authors share a story that I think is a powerful reminder of this.

Employees at a bar had the opportunity to provide input on their jobs by submitting ideas. There were few, if any restrictions on the type of ideas, so one might expect them to pick some that made their work easier. But it turns out that was often associated with an improvement in the customer experience as well.

For instance, instead of having to carry a massive carton of empty bottles down to the cellar when it filled up, they installed a chute at the back of the bar for empty bottles to slide down to the cellar unassisted. This decreased the risk of workplace injuries from walking down stairs with heavy objects, improved customer service by not pulling away a service employee during a busy shift, and allowed bartenders to monitor and discard the empty bottles unassisted.

Even if nothing else came from these ideas other than the improved customer service results, it would be worthwhile. Yet it also improved the engagement levels of the employees by eliminating a non-value- added task from their daily work.

Another great example is from a former employer of mine. We used a “The Big Ideas Database,” which is a grandiose title for a spreadsheet. Any employee could share an idea through the web form and it would be considered by leadership for implementation.

Many of the ideas were actually acted upon. Some were quite minor (larger garbage bags in the break room), but others were considerably more important (repurposing/licensing a piece of software led to an additional $2 million in sales annually). Employees were actually excited about sharing ideas via the platform as a way to drive innovation and continuously serve customers better.

And, as with the previous story, it drove their engagement as well.

Want to create a culture of innovation and high performance? Focus on seeking out employee feedback and acting upon it. It’s powerful fuel for organizational performance and can be a significant competitive advantage if implemented properly.

Does your organization encourage employees to share ideas? Have you ever considered the effect on engagement or culture when an employee’s idea is implemented? 

Today we’re honored to have a guest post from a long-time friend and fellow HR practitioner. Jane Jaxon is the rockstar HR Director for a tech company in Boston. Learn more about her in the bio below the article. 

Marketing 101: You need a product that meets the needs of your target customer or audience, then you need to promote it where it will be seen by and sought out by potential customers.

Branding 101: Define what you are about and what space in the market you occupy. Stand for something you believe in. Build such a strong connection with your audience that they take on your brand identity on as their own.

Wait, this is an HR blog, right? It is. Why are these concepts so basic when building a business and customer base, but relatively foreign in the HR world? Human capital is critical to the success of a company, yet basic marketing principles and resources are rarely allocated to our teams. It seems silly. A business cannot succeed without both the right product or service and the right people to deliver that product or service.

I suspect many of you don’t have marketers on your team, but there are some simple steps you can begin to take on your own to differentiate yourself and strengthen your employer brand to attract a better pipeline.

Understand your value proposition. What value can you deliver to prospective candidates? Examples include: location, work/life balance, opportunity to work with cutting edge technologies, top-of-the-market pay or great mentorship and development programs. Ask your current employees what the best part of working for your company is. And market it! Make sure pictures and language on your website highlight your differentiators. Invite employees to write testimonials or post to Glassdoor. But above all, be honest.

Figure out your market and focus your advertising appropriately. Each position has a unique market and needs to be treated as such. For example, we ask our team to review our job descriptions when we’re adding to the team to give us feedback – the oozing-with-personality job descriptions we use for entry level positions just may not appeal to senior level developers or a CFO. When I’m looking for an engineer, I ask our current team where they spend their time browsing and to tell me about the most effective cold call or email they have received and I tweak my recruitment approach accordingly. Finally, when we land a fantastic candidate, we take note of how so we can better focus our efforts next time.

Deliver. You need your public persona to match the candidate (and employee) experience. If you differentiate by the intelligence of your team, candidates expect to talk to smart people. If you pride yourself on corporate values and culture, the interview experience and questions should reflect that. You cannot attract or retain the right people if you aren’t able to deliver on the experience you’ve marketed. Just think – would you go back to a hotel that showed beautiful rooms and an ocean view but delivered an inferior product? Neither will candidates.

No company is perfect in every area, but you can be much more successful if you are able to identify what your strengths are, how you compare to the competition, and your audience, then relay that message in an effective way. How do you stack up? What differentiates your open reqs and opportunities from the competition?

About the author: Jane Jaxon is the HR Director of a high-growth tech company in Boston where she gets to focus on building a great workplace and scaling people operations. Jane’s favorite buzzwords of the trade are eNPS, talent density and (of course) people operations. She likes neither pina colada’s nor getting caught in the rain, but sure loves marathoning critically-acclaimed tv series, reading in the sun, plotting her fantasy football world domination and, lastly, keeping a stealthy social media presence. Find her on LinkedIn.

As a guy working in a small HR shop, I am subscribed to multiple forums, blogs, and websites. I like having a lot of information at my fingertips, and recently I ran across a great question I thought would be worth sharing.

I would also be interested in what others are doing. We have been monitoring the [Glassdoor] reviews but recently received a less than positive review and are looking for advice on the best way to respond. It seems to me like it’s more of a communications issue from an external perspective, but I would like to know what others are doing.

For those of you who are not familiar, Glassdoor.com is a site where employees can go to post reviews of the company, share anonymous pay data, etc. Applicants can also share questions asked, what the interview/candidate experience was like, and other details that might be helpful to the public.

The HR professional who presented the question above did it very well. Many companies are completely unaware of the Glassdoor site, and even those that are don’t make a habit of regularly monitoring the discussions around their brand. This is a key area for recruiters and HR professionals to keep tabs on the employer brand, since many of the topics discussed on the site (pay, benefits, recruiting…) all touch the HR profession.

I’ve talked about employer branding previously (Psst–Your Greatness is Showing), and while it’s not on the top of my mind every day, I still think about it often. We’re marketing our organizations every time we choose to respond to candidates in a timely manner (or not).

Many companies talk about their brand without regard for what the rest of the world thinks. And some HR pros even think that they can make up some pretty words to get their point across. Not going to happen. 

Cliff’s Notes on how to manage Glassdoor reviews

If you want to manage your reviews on Glassdoor, start by treating employees and candidates well. Then if anything ends up getting posted on the site, you can respond accordingly with nothing to hide.

Will you sometimes get a nasty review, whether warranted or not? Sure! But then you respond to it publicly, tell your side of the story, and don’t shove your head in the sand and act like it never happened.

We want to be treated like big boys and girls. Let’s act like it! :-)

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on another company that we are competing with. Within five minutes of Google searching, it quickly became obvious that their website is woefully inadequate. Their site is 2-3 static pages of fluff (the majority of which is focused on their CEO’s history and accomplishments). They don’t mention what jobs they have, what their culture is like, or what kind of benefits they offer.

In short, it’s pretty darn crappy for anyone showing up there looking for information, including job searchers.

Let’s compare that with another company I ran across in my research. They aren’t a competitor, but I’m glad, because they look like an amazing company who people would be tripping over themselves to work for. In the screenshot below (click to make the image larger), you can learn some of their cultural norms, their mission, and there’s even a compelling call to action for job seekers at the end.

competitive culture

Here’s the text if you can’t read it:

Our Mission Statement

We play to win; Love to live; Create leaders; Give back; Become legendary

Want to make it your mission? Contact us.

Some of the differences in between these companies are obvious, and others are not, but job seekers are going to have a much better candidate experience at the second company than they would at the first! Step back, think like a job seeker, and take a look at what your website looks like. Is your greatness showing? 

Your HR brand is what you do, not what you say

As part of our rebranding of HR we were asked to come up with a new name for our Human Resources department. Can you guys help me with your suggestions to rename our department?

I don’t want to pick on the person who posted this, so I won’t name them, but I had to laugh when I read it. Call it the Pit of Despair. Call it the Confluence of People and Happiness. It doesn’t really matter as much as what you do. Continue reading

AKA: How to use employment videos for social recruiting

Social recruiting is discussed often, but one of the lesser mentioned facets is video. While many companies know it’s something they should pursue, they don’t know how to be successful. Below you’ll find some ideas to pursue in the area of employer videos. Just a quick word of warning, I’m going to be technical at times, because the subject warrants it. However, I’m happy to help if your organization is looking to make a move into the video arena.

First off, you want your videos to be found when people search Google, right? That’s where search engine optimization comes in. It’s a methodology for getting your videos indexed in a way that makes them easy to find by searchers.

Five tips for Video SEO (search engine optimization)

  1. Make the video something people want to share (more detail on this below).
  2. Don’t dilute your videos by posting on multiple sites (YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, etc.).
  3. Titles, tags, and descriptions are useful when uploading and posting videos online, but backlinks to the videos (with relevant keywords in the anchor text) are more important for search engine rankings.
  4. YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world and the #1 for videos. Use that to your advantage.
  5. If you’re using WordPress as your content distribution platform, create a video sitemap and submit it via Google Webmaster Tools. Every little bit helps!

Now, let’s elaborate on #1 above. That’s usually the first question people have: what do the videos need to be about? Well, there are several ways to go with that, but I like to think of two kinds of people when considering these types of video: customers and potential job candidates. Think about what they would like to know about your company and give it to them!

Five ideas for your employment video content

  1. Interview employees and ask what they do and what they like about the job, dept, or company
  2. Get staff members to discuss the culture and how that affects what they do.
  3. Ask employees to talk about their favorite benefit/perk that you offer.
  4. Film the fun, unique events that make your organization special.
  5. Create content that is outward facing and valuable to your industry. Hint: if you’re providing thought leadership and value at a level that entices competitors to link to you, then you’re on the right track.

This list certainly isn’t all-inclusive, but it’s a great start to generating ideas that would specifically benefit your company.

Thinking about creating some employer branding videos for your company and looking for some help? Feel free to contact me if you’re looking for assistance.