When employees hit back online

MISA HAN
Last updated 12:52 01/07/2014

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BHP Billiton is "a textbook example of bureaucracy, office politics, dysfunctional communication and operational inefficiency" and National Australia Bank is "an environment perfect for nurturing corporate psychopaths" - if you believe anonymous reviews on employer rating website Glassdoor.

With more employees taking their feelings online, job review websites Glassdoor and JobAdvisor are cashing in on the trend by offering image makeover services to brand-conscious employers.

The websites allow employees to anonymously review companies, approve or disapprove of chief executives and give overall star ratings, much like reviewing restaurants onUrbanspoon or rating holiday attractions on TripAdvisor.

While the examples in this story are from across the ditch, many New Zealand companies are also rated.

A BHP employee decided to take complaints about her colleagues to Glassdoor. "They are unable to see the bigger picture, they hoard the little bit of information that they get and act like demigods to their subordinates," the employee said.

A former employee advised NAB to: "Weed out the psychopaths and narcissists."

The websites raise revenue by encouraging begrudged employees to air their grievances online and then offering employer branding services to companies affected by anonymous comments posted by the site users.

NOTHING NEW

"Employees have been talking about their employers online since the advent of social media and online forums such as Whirlpool, so it's nothing new," Justin Babet, founder and chief executive of JobAdvisor said.

"What is new is sites like JobAdvisor centralising those comments onto a moderated platform dedicated to the employment sector."

Glassdoor charges companies at least $US750 (NZ$856) a month for employer branding services that allow employers to upload videos, messages and analytics about branding and reputation. The company does not have any clients based in Australia, although Australia is one of the top-four users outside the United States.

JobAdvisor offers a paid service to employers, which will put the five-star rating reviews on top of the page and allow employers to respond to reviews. This costs anywhere between $9 and more than $499 a month, depending on the size of the workforce.

Telstra signed up for JobAdvisor's paid features, which coincided with more five- and four-star rating anonymous reviews being posted.

"Dream job, dream company!" a user wrote on the JobAdvisor page. "There is nothing about the company I dislike," another Telstra employee commented.

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However, BHP Billiton and NAB said they are not planning to follow suit.

NO COMMENT TO ANONYMOUS FEEDBACK

"Anonymous feedback is not something we would comment on in general," BHP Billiton spokesman Paul Hitchens said.

A NAB spokeswoman said that the bank seeks employment engagement through other channels, such as its annual employee survey.

Glassdoor and JobAdvisor do not allow employers to remove the company profile or delete a review, preferring to moderate the reviews according to their own community standards.

Recruitment firm Randstad's strategic account director Mike Roddy said companies should be mindful of anonymous comments online but "not go over the top".

"[The negative comments] will always be around. I don't think they would be the prevailing guide as to whether an employer is worthy or not. Companies should be mindful of them but not go over the top."

Glassdoor provides ratings of over 2000 Australian companies, including over 100 reviews each on high-profile Australian employers like Telstra, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Macquarie Group, while Sydney-based JobAdvisor has attracted around 9000 reviews since its launch in 2012.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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