• Ticking time bomb of employee opinion – younger people are more heavily influenced by the opinions of others about the best companies to work for
  • Employers need to better manage relations with leavers to attract new talent

The UK’s workforce is becoming increasingly outspoken online about dissatisfaction with employers according to our research. It reveals millennials (18 – 34 year olds) are twice as likely to share their true feelings about an existing or previous employer on the internet than their older colleagues aged 35 – 54 (41% vs. 21%).

This means the challenge of managing an employer brand is only set to get harder for employers. What’s more, that challenge is to become more important if an organisation is to attract and retain the best talent available in the future. The study went on to identify when it comes to reading negative employer reviews, it is again millennials who are most likely to sit up and take notice compared to older employees – 69% vs. 47%.

More specifically, the study found a third (33%) of prospective or current employees between 18 – 34 years old could be put off from accepting a job offer with a company they heard a lot of negative things about, compared to just one in five (21%) of 35 – 54 year olds.

Furthermore, three quarters (75%) of millennials will take the time to actively seek out the opinions of existing or previous employees about a prospective employer before applying for a role.

The opinions of employees is something employers have long been concerned with, yet what our research highlights is how that feedback is to become even more critical to managing an employer brand with the rise of social media, and in particular networks that specifically target a professional audience like LinkedIn and Glassdoor. This also makes it even more important for organisations to look after their leavers who will have much less to lose in letting the world know what they really think about their ex-employer.

Bearing these developments in mind, negative ratings of an employer can seriously impact its ability to encourage the best people to join its ranks and stay there. Organisations need to acknowledge this growing issue and then take the vital steps of engaging and developing their employees to future proof themselves.

The research shows taking the time as a manager to foster good relationships with direct reports and between colleagues should continue to be a top priority in order to avoid high staff turnover. It finds two in five (41%) workers would leave their job due to a poor relationship with their manager and a further 31% over a poor relationship with a colleague.

Looking at the broader picture, over three quarters (76%) of workers have admitted to voicing a negative opinion about a current or previous employer. The study highlighted how for those who are vocalising these negative opinions, over half (54%) are taking their grievances home to their nearest and dearest, while a further 50% moan to their colleagues. With three quarters (75%) of workers admitting they would share, or even have shared, a negative opinion of an ex-employer with someone who still works within an organisation.

Interestingly, the research also suggests that when an employee leaves an organisation, they are not necessarily gone forever. It seems “boomerang employees” are a growing trend: 78% of workers would consider returning to an ex-employer if the timing and the deal were right. This means that not only is maintaining good relationships with leavers important in terms of the employer brand, but it is also crucial in establishing  talent pipeline planning – as high performers with an understanding of the organisation could one day be enticed back.

Now we are seeing the impact of employee opinion becoming more outspoken and public, companies need to understand the full impact a single negative review could have and actively work to prevent negativity from breeding in the very first instance.

Nick Goldberg, CEO UK & Ireland of Lee Hecht Harrison | Penna