Speaker Preview: Chris Kurtz – Employee Generated Content – HR’s Swiss Army Knife

A friend recently phoned to tell me about his latest financial woes, a burned out motor on the car that his daughter had taken away to college.  

Like many parents before them, they carefully scoured the classifieds looking for a car that was both a reliable and economical solution for transportation for their soon-to-be BYU-Idaho freshman.  Their daughter was delighted and named her first car “Gertrude”.  They covered all the basics, slow down in snow, don’t lend it out to friends, no texting and driving, no double-buckling etc. Yes, my friend had covered all the basics.  Except one…Warning lights and maintenance

When the “check oil” light came on, she was startled at first.  She knew that something should be done but figured it could wait.  Early on, the light was an annoyance but before long she hardly noticed it at all.  That was, until the evening that her trusty Gertrude failed her and she was left calling for assistance on the side of the road.    

What began as a simple warning and could have been avoided for a mere $39.95 with a manufacture’s rebate, would now cost thousands of dollars. 

Sound familiar?

When Mark Zuckerberg and his friends created Facebook in their college dorm, they provided more than the power to connect. They unleashed an entirely new genie from the bottle, a microphone for everyone to the world.  Friends, family, and employees alike could now take to the internet to share their experiences and express their opinions.  This has given rise to sites like Yelp, Glassdoor, Comparably, RatemyJob, RateMyBoss, RateMyProfesssor, RateMyFillintheblank.  

The reviews have also become a double-edged sword, striking fear into the hearts of some while creating a sense of urgency, transparency and community for others.  Whatever your approach, the genie is here to stay with the rising workforce even being dubbed, “The Glassdoor Generation.” (source: socialtalent.co)

Because of its anonymity and relevance in the job search process, employees and candidates to date have left over 11 million company, interview or salary reviews on Glassdoor.com (source: Glassdoor) and hundreds of millions more across sites similar to it. Put another way, in the time that you read this post, an additional 20 – 30 pieces of content will land on Glassdoor.

For recruiters, Human Resources, and Executives, that content can be a virtual Swiss Army Knife.  Just as the gauges on the dash of a car provide a report on the vehicle’s performance, employee generated content (EGC) offers valuable insight into engagement, candidate experience, workforce diversity and opportunities for people development.  On the flip side, when left unchecked, it can also lead to costly disaster. 

What do I recommend?

At a minimum, managers and recruiters should be listening to and watching the reviews that employees with genuine intent take the time to leave.  Deciding to respond is the choice of the organization and should coincide with your culture. 

When tempted to overlook what may seem to be an innocuous review, remember the roughly 30 million unique visitors to Glassdoor each month, (source: Quantcast) and the words from William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, “I’ll speak with a monstrous voice.” 

I often field calls from clients or friends who simply want advice on how to make a review go away.  I share with them the 1% rule and encourage them to take a further look.  Some have discovered entire teams on the verge of resignation or recruiting practices that are terrible at best. 

In other words, they too ignored the light that may have saved them thousands, even millions of dollars and precious employee goodwill.   

Thank you for reading.

In a future post, I’ll talk about the 1% rule and share some tips on engaging with EGC.

If you’re feeling social, you can also connect and join the conversation here, or simply come by and say hello.

Do Good, Be Great,



Chris Kurtz is the Founder and Principal of PeerThru. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter