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that is how corporations reply

that is how corporations reply

2023-05-26 03:48:20

???? Hello, that is Gergely with a bonus, free situation of the Pragmatic Engineer Publication. In each situation, I cowl matters associated to Huge Tech and high-growth startups by means of the lens of engineering managers and senior engineers. On this situation, we cowl one out of six matters from at present’s subscriber-only The Scoop issue. To get full articles twice every week, subscribe:

I obtained a message from a software program engineer working at an organization which laid off 30% of employees in December 2022. It’s a late-stage startup valued at round $3B which had round 1,000 staff earlier than the layoffs. The engineer wrote:

“My firm is eradicating Glassdoor evaluations as a result of their ranking has gotten so low. The corporate’s rating went to 2.3 and so they began doing this. I don’t assume my firm is alone on this follow to guard themselves from dangerous press, however a lot of my colleagues have had their evaluations deleted. Successfully, we’ve been silenced.”

I managed to speak to somebody on this firm’s HR division, who confirmed that the management set a purpose to enhance the enterprise’s Glassdoor ranking. The HR crew’s goal was to get the rating above 3.0. And so, they started working flagging adverse evaluations for removing, and inspiring employees to put up 5-star evaluations to steadiness out adverse evaluations. Seems, this firm is just not alone in doing so.

In at present’s situation, we’ll look carefully at what is occurring, and in addition examine a selected firm — cybersecurity firm Trustwave — to seek out out what occurred so the corporate reached an all-time excessive Glassdoor ranking:

The Glassdoor score history of Trustwave. Something changed since mid-2021: we’ll investigate exactly what happened that explains this sudden rise

The Glassdoor rating historical past of Trustwave. One thing modified since mid-2021: we’ll examine precisely what occurred that explains this sudden rise

Some tech corporations are in “Glassdoor disaster administration mode” after layoffs. I’ve talked with CTOs and HR professionals at 5 tech corporations, who all inform me they’re doing one thing much like having set a goal rating to enhance to, or did so previously. I’m not naming these corporations as I consider it is a widespread pattern that’s not restricted to only a few gamers (And, to be clear, Trustwave is just not on this group: I wouldn’t have info of such mandates on the firm). Additionally, there is enterprise sense in doing this for reputational causes. However first, let’s speak about what they’re doing and whether or not it’s honest. 

The Glassdoor website makes it very clear corporations can’t take away evaluations. On each Glassdoor evaluate web page is that this message:

The message on Glassdoor’s review pages

The message on Glassdoor’s evaluate pages

Effectively, this assertion is considerably inaccurate, as Glassdoor does take away some evaluations. I talked with a number of HR of us whose mandate was to take away unfavorable evaluations. That is attainable, and right here’s the way it works:

  • Glassdoor will take away evaluations that violate its neighborhood pointers, or phrases of use. Employers can flag evaluations and Glassdoor does all removals at its sole discretion, and shares no particulars on why they determine to take away a evaluate. There is no such thing as a appeals from employers. Customers whose evaluations are eliminated are usually not notified. I requested Glassdoor for touch upon this reality. The corporate responded with a generic assertion that didn’t reply why they do not notify customers when taking down their evaluations.

  • Paying clients appear to get precedence in performing on flagged evaluations. Though any firm can flag evaluations to be eliminated, a HR particular person advised me that of their expertise Glassdoor takes no motion till the corporate is a Glassdoor buyer. This particular person’s firm flagged evaluations that have been very clearly in violation, however Glassdoor solely took a evaluate down when the corporate began paying. Glassdoor responded and stated they permit non-paying employers to flag evaluations: however the firm didn’t say in the event that they deal with non-paying employers with the identical precedence as paying ones. In all equity, doing so would make no enterprise sense.

  • There is no such thing as a method to strain Glassdoor to take away any single evaluate. Nonetheless, a Chief Folks Officer who has labored at tech companies for greater than 10 years advised me their “success charge” for eradicating evaluations is about 1 in 3. This particular person stated that of their expertise, impolite and abusive evaluations will be efficiently challenged. In any other case, Glassdoor received’t budge.

  • Glassdoor is fairly good at lowering spamming. The identical Chief Folks Officer stated they’re happy with how properly Glassdoor eliminated spam, or faux evaluations. Spamming – a “copy-paste” model evaluate – is a typical downside and they don’t really feel Glassdoor take a backseat in battling this.

The commonest method to get a evaluate eliminated is for an organization to assert it violates Glassdoor’s phrases of service. A HR skilled who was once tasked with eradicating as many evaluations as attainable, advised me the commonest technique is to flag a evaluate for one or each of the next causes:

  • Impersonating one other particular person. Employers regularly flag evaluations claiming what the evaluate was by an impersonator pretending to be a employees member. Ought to Glassdoor agree, it should ask the reviewer to show they’re a present worker, and can cover the evaluate till this occurs. Naturally, some staff won’t wish to establish themselves, even to Glassdoor.

  • Defamatory, libellous, fraudulent or knowingly deceptive content material. Once more, employers can flag content material that falls into this class. This might be abused by some employers, placing Glassdoor within the place of deciding whether or not or not they agree with the employer’s opinion.

Glassdoor is in a difficult spot, however doesn’t make the state of affairs simpler for itself. Glassdoor is a semi-anonymous website the place staff put up evaluations on the understanding Glassdoor will defend their privateness; and the location makes good on this promise. Glassdoor went so far as going to court docket in 2022 to push again on toymaker Zuru, which wished to know the reviewers’ identities. Sadly for privateness followers, Zuru received and a US court docket ordered Glassdoor to reveal this info. So should you depart a evaluate, take into account the non-zero likelihood {that a} court docket order may pressure Glassdoor to disclose your identification, despite the fact that it clearly goals to guard this as a lot as attainable.

Think about the state of affairs the place a evaluate claims one thing and the corporate tells Glassdoor that is intentionally deceptive info. What’s Glassdoor to do? It must implement the phrases of service, so both it takes the employer at their phrase and removes this evaluate. Or Glassdoor has sufficient data to know the employer is wrong and the knowledge is correct. Nonetheless, when a evaluate in query incorporates inner firm info, Glassdoor won’t have prior data to fall again on, so it has to take away the evaluate, or else fail to implement its personal phrases of service.

And to be honest, the HR employee I talked to stated the identical. This particular person flagged each single 1 or 2-star evaluate, and Glassdoor solely acted on clearly defamatory and fraudulent ones, or ones which violated pointers.

Glassdoor may make the method rather a lot clearer by publishing a moderation log which particulars when and why it eliminated a evaluate. This log may comprise solely the redacted components of affected evaluations to make sure the phrases of service are usually not damaged. Such a log would construct confidence that Glassdoor is a impartial platform which is barely implementing its personal phrases and situations, and will validate this. Wikipedia’s edit logs, or the moderation log on the programming web site, are each examples of bringing transparency to moderation and content material modifying insurance policies.

Corporations encouraging employees to go away extra constructive evaluations is a typical method to improve the rating. Glassdoor itself naturally encourages corporations to have extra staff add evaluations with the intention to fight adverse evaluations. Within the article “I’m an employer. What can I do about negative reviews on Glassdoor?” the corporate outlines 4 steps:

  1. Flag evaluations. Glassdoor validates in the event that they break its phrases and situations or neighborhood pointers. In the event that they do, they must be eliminated.

  2. Reply to them. Responses are proven underneath the evaluate.

  3. Submit extra evaluations. Glassdoor gives several templates about how employers can do that.

  4. Take authorized motion. That is at all times a chance, however is probably the most time-consuming method and the end result of authorized proceedings is unsure.

I’ve talked with a number of CTOs and HR professionals who advised me their corporations encourage staff to put up evaluations in varied methods:

  • Ship a reminder to new joiners throughout the first few months, asking them to go away a evaluate on Glassdoor. It is a sensible method, as new joiners are sometimes of their honeymoon interval, and are more likely to depart a constructive evaluate.

  • Remind managers of the significance of Glassdoor evaluations when hiring employees, and ask them to think about sharing their expertise on the location. Once more, sensible, as managers are likely to promote the corporate anyway and are more likely to share constructive issues concerning the place.

  • Arrange a “Glassdoor evaluate occasion,” asking staff to go away trustworthy evaluations.

In instances the place there is no such thing as a strain to go away a constructive evaluate, I can’t discover fault in these approaches. After all, staff know a great evaluate makes the employer look higher, however it’s the worker’s selection. Nonetheless, there are corporations which make use of extra questionable ways. Engineering leaders and engineers shared some tales:

  • A startup organized a social occasion at work, and requested staff to indicate up on time with their laptops. As everybody arrived, the founder instructed folks to go to Glassdoor, and depart a constructive evaluate. The founder and different executives walked round, checking what folks have been writing.

  • One firm requested staff to put in writing a “trustworthy” evaluate and electronic mail it to HR. Naturally, this meant the evaluate was not nameless any extra.

  • An organization, as a part of their onboarding checklists, instructs new joiners to submit a constructive Glassdoor evaluate throughout their first week on the firm. Such evaluations can typically be noticed, because the descriptions will typically point out how the reviewer has barely began on the firm.

  • A video platform startup firm explicitly banned terminated staff from posting a adverse evaluate of the corporate on Glassdoor, or every other evaluate website for one yr, as a part of their severance bundle settlement. A software program engineer who was given this severance settlement contacted Glassdoor to complain about their employer, however by no means heard again. The engineer didn’t put up a adverse evaluate for a yr to guard their severance.

  • One other firm disallowed staff posting any Glassdoor evaluations, within the employment contract itself: doing so would go in opposition to this contract. This firm added this clause after a protracted and fixed influx of adverse evaluations.

These examples counsel dangerous firm cultures, no matter what the evaluations say.

Some corporations see comparatively quick will increase of their Glassdoor scores, after layoffs. Let’s take a selected instance: Trustwave, which is a cybersecurity and managed companies supplier owned by Singtel, a telecom large in Singapore. Right here’s Trustwave’s Glassdoor web page at time of publication:

Trustwave’s Glassdoor reviews page. Source: Glassdoor

Trustwave’s Glassdoor evaluations web page. Supply: Glassdoor

However the firm’s Glassdoor web page was not at all times like this. Simply 2 years in the past, about 12 months after layoffs on the firm, the scores have been considerably decrease:

Trustwave’s Glassdoor reviews page in June 2021

Trustwave’s Glassdoor evaluations web page in June 2021

Former staff advised me the corporate had a restructuring in mid-2020, letting go about 10-20% of employees. This, naturally, decreased morale – and sure additionally contributed to extra adverse firm evaluations on Glassdoor. The corporate referred to as this restructuring a company-wide transformation. A PR supervisor from Trustwave stated that the adjustments since 2020 included a revamped efficiency administration course of, introducing a “Moments that Matter” office philosophy (principally, versatile distant work,) and funding in studying and improvement. This PR supervisor stated they consider the improved Glassdoor rating “is a direct reflection of Trustwave’s profitable company and cultural transformation with its centered expertise initiatives.”

I spent just a few days accumulating and crunching Trustwave’s Glassdoor evaluations, and may now map out how evaluations have modified:

The change in ratings for Trustwave, 2014-2023. Since 2021, ratings have dramatically improved

The change in rankings for Trustwave, 2014-2023. Since 2021, rankings have dramatically improved

It’s not shocking to see the corporate’s Glassdoor rating reducing after mid-2020, as this occurs to corporations that undergo restructuring which entails cuts. Nonetheless, there’s a particular and ongoing uptick for the reason that mid-2021. In Might that yr, the corporate introduced a brand new Chief Folks Officer, and since then has been much more responsive in responding to Glassdoor evaluations. Additionally, the variety of evaluations have elevated by quite a bit.

What’s unusual is that till June 2022, the variety of evaluations was up, however the common ranking was nonetheless round 3.5. Then one thing modified from June 2022:

See Also

How the frequency and scores across reviews have changed in the last 24 months. The past 12 months there’s been an unprecendented uptick in 5-star reviews

How the frequency and scores throughout evaluations have modified within the final 24 months. The previous 12 months there’s been an unprecedented uptick in 5-star evaluations

Prior to now 12 months, the corporate obtained greater than 6 occasions the variety of 5-star evaluations than within the earlier yr. So I made a decision to look into the content material of those evaluations. To my shock, 12 out of the final 25 evaluations have been precise copies of one another: precise duplicate evaluations coming in 12-20 days after the primary such evaluate. Principally, 50% of latest evaluations are spam. Listed below are some examples:

The exact same review, posted twice. All of these reviews are 5-stars, very short and lack any specifics. Twelve of the last 25 reviews are “copy-paste” reviews. Are they legit?

The very same evaluate, posted twice. All of those evaluations are 5-stars, very brief and lack any specifics. Twelve of the final 25 evaluations are “copy-paste” evaluations. Are they legit?

I reached out to Trustwave to ask in the event that they’re conscious of those duplicated, overly generic evaluations on their Glassdoor web page. The corporate responded, saying “Trustwave is just not conscious of any faux or duplicate evaluations on its Glassdoor web page.” Effectively, the corporate ought to be considerably conscious that half of all latest evaluations are duplicates, given the Chief Folks Officer personally responded to a reproduction evaluate lower than a month in the past, making it clear they learn each evaluations:

Trustwave’s Chief Human Resources Officer’s response to a duplicate review

Trustwave’s Chief Human Assets Officer’s response to a reproduction evaluate

Given I already discovered a dozen duplicate evaluations simply by looking Trustwave’s website, I used to be questioning how significantly Glassdoor is taking removing of such spam evaluations, which ought to be simple sufficient to establish. I reached out for remark, however the firm replied with a generic assertion: “Earlier than a evaluate seems on Glassdoor, it goes by means of a multi-tier evaluate course of that may embody each technological and human evaluate.” 

Effectively, that automated evaluate doesn’t appear to incorporate checking for duplicate evaluations, as of at present.

Bear in mind which firm has what kind of incentives. Glassdoor’s clients are companies, and the corporate makes its income from 4 sources, all primarily based on companies paying for:

  1. Employer branding: the power to answer evaluations

  2. Overview intelligence, to find developments in evaluations

  3. Job listings

  4. Focused job advertisements

Glassdoor’s incentives are tied to conserving its clients (companies) completely satisfied, and to draw sufficient site visitors from job seekers to justify companies contracting with Glassdoor.

And as for corporations? Their purpose will likely be to current themselves in a constructive mild. HR groups at sure organizations may set a purpose of getting their Glassdoor rating to a given goal, or the C-level management may set the goal.

Within the case of Trustwave, a yr in the past the corporate’s rating was 3.5. Right now it’s 4.4. What’s modified? Dozens of generic-looking 5-star evaluations that give no extra perception into what it’s actually like on the firm. So how a lot must you belief this rating, or depend on it? My take is that you have to be cautious, and deal with this with due context. I cowl extra recommendation on this within the full The Scoop issue.

Impartial of this text, answer scientist Shikhar Sachdev dived deep and investigated The underground economy of Glassdoor reviews, discovering faux, 5-start Glassdoor evaluations have a going charge of $10-25 per evaluate on marketplaces, and suppliers providing evaluate removing companies – for a value. Overview removing is one thing Glassdoor explicitly says shouldn’t be attainable. It is fascinating analysis to learn: check it out here.

This was one out of the 5 matters coated on this week’s The Scoop. A whole lot of what I share in The Scoop is unique to this publication, that means it’s not been coated in every other media outlet earlier than and also you’re the primary to examine it.

The full The Scoop version moreover covers:

  1. Ought to Glassdoor evaluations matter to you? As an engineering chief or a job seeker, how a lot weight must you assign to Glassdoor evaluations? I give my take from either side, pulling in skilled recommendation. Opinion

  2. When will Amazon be a part of the generative AI race? Among the many large 3 cloud suppliers, Microsoft and Google are transport generative AI options for purchasers to make use of. In the meantime, Amazon has introduced Bedrock, however greater than a month later not even its personal builders have entry. What’s occurring, and when will Bedrock be accessible? I talked with Amazon SDEs and have solutions. Unique

  3. A 1.5 month-long code freeze at Stack Overflow. With tons of of hardcoded secrets and techniques in its repository, this turned a significant downside for Stack Overflow, as a result of CircleCI safety breach. To treatment issues, the corporate froze all deploys for six weeks. What can we be taught from this incident? Unique

  4. Early warning of latest layoffs at AWS. It’s uncommon to know should you’re liable to dropping your job, earlier than cuts are introduced. In what was most likely an oversight, affected AWS staff obtained just a few days’ discover that the axe was going to fall, which helped many individuals put together. Unique

  5. The AI growth to accentuate? NVIDIA’s earnings revealed a a lot bigger-than-expected demand for {hardware} to run and practice AI fashions. Might we see the already sizzling AI discipline warmth up additional? Evaluation.

Read the full The Scoop here.

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