Good vs. Bad: Online Reputation Management
How robust is your company’s online reputation? Do your current or former employees publish positive or negative information about you? As an HR professional, in charge of bringing new employees on board, you must actively monitor and improve your online reputation if you want to snag the best talent and grow your business.
What Do Your Employees Think?
Your first step in managing your reputation as an employer is to find out how your employees view you. To get their opinions, I think that an anonymous survey is best.
You must ensure that the information you gather is truly anonymous. I recommend using an outside vendor who can help you both design and execute the survey. There are variety of businesses and services out there. Do some research to find the package that fits your budget. If your needs are small enough, you may be able to use a service like SurveyMonkey for free.
Research Yourself Online
To get an outsider’s perspective, research your company online and see what’s being said. Imagine you are a prospective employee and go to sites that specialize in dishing the dirt on companies.
You can also monitor web chatter with the following tools:
1. Google Alerts – A free service that sends you email alerts, as often as you would like, anytime your company’s name comes up on the web. You’ll know if you are mentioned in an article or blog.
2. Social Mention – Social Mention tracks Twitter, Facebook and blog comments for any mention of your company or company leaders’ name.
3. Crowdbooster – Crowdbooster also looks at Twitter and Facebook mentions.
4. Summify – This service sends Twitter and Facebook mentions to your email or phone.
5. Addict-o-matic – Addict-o-matic creates a web page that reads like a news magazine on whatever topic you would like to track, such as your company or CEO's name.
Create the Reputation You Want
Once you have researched your employees’ opinions and your online reputation, meet with senior leadership to decide if you are on a correct path or not. Perhaps you discovered that employees think your company makes it too difficult to move up into management, fails to hire from within, or offers little support in growing employees’ skill sets so they can improve themselves. This sort of “dead end” reputation will hurt your recruitment efforts and should definitely be remedied.
How to Change Your Reputation
Now it is time to roll up your sleeves and work to reshape your culture and your reputation. You cannot just put in place programs or little perks and expect that the culture will change. Many of you more experienced HR pros know that. Changing your employees' attitudes, especially, will require some time.
To improve your online reputation, do what everyone else is doing: self-promote. Why not? Don’t be afraid to join in. Every list published about the “100 Best Employers” or “100 Best Companies for Families” are developed through an application process. Really smart companies are make sure that they are on those lists and their culture, and who they are, gets mentioned.
You can use social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to garner positive attention. Have someone at your company spend time on Yahoo! Answers, fielding questions about your company's area of expertise. Write blogs. Have your CEO write a book about your company’s culture. All of these efforts support your desired reputation.
The single best way to reinforce who you are is to continue to communicate about it.
The title “the information age” means that we live in a time when information is readily available. If we don’t communicate about who we are as an organization, people are going to do it for us. We don’t want to end up in a situation where employees share information about the company and we’re not involved. Our absence from the conversation welcomes trouble.
As HR leaders who engage with the employee population and the recruiting process, bringing new people in, it’s up to us to focus on our brand, who we are and what we are doing to promote that. We must be specialists in self-promotion.
If it’s right for your organization and this idea resonates with you, make 2011 and 2012 a time for your organization to define who you are as a company, who you want to be and how you want to be viewed by your employees and your perspective employees. Then, do something about that.
Stacey Carroll, CCP, SPHR
Director of Professional Services and Education
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