There are two main reasons why people leave your employment involuntarily – both emotion packed; with significant risks to your business:
- The employee is no longer required: This situation could be due to restructure as a result of a downturn or a re-alignment of a business strategy. In this case, the decision to let someone go here is often met with surprise and shock by the employee.
- The employee did not ‘fit’/perform well: This could be due to a poor hiring decision or a performance issue. Sometimes it’s due to a poor hiring decision, or poor on-boarding and integration into a company’s’ culture. More often than not, it results from a mismatch with the immediate manager. The decision here is less likely to be met with shock. But it is still met with strong negative emotions. Let’s face it, no-one likes to be rejected.
Whatever the reason, the decision to let someone go is hard on both sides.
It’s hard on most managers giving the bad news. It’s hard on the employee. And it’s hard on those people who are left behind – seeing how the employer has treated the departing employee (heaven forbid the same thing should one day happen to them.)
Poor handling of an employee’s exit can create immediate damage to your organisation.
Sales opportunities can be exploited and secrets can be divulged.
Even if a deed of release has been signed, in truth it is hard to prove the source of the sales leak or trade secret – and often it takes a long time to remedy – long after the damage has been done.
But there is a greater far reaching risk to employers posed by departing employees. It’s the child of a social media and Internet world …
1. Anyone — regardless of their former role — has the potential to have a loud voice on the internet.
Anyone can become their own media channel. The internet now provides the opportunity for anyone — regardless of seniority — to have a voice online.
Today readers often place more weight on anonymous rankings than that of the organisation’s official voice — regardless of who that voice is.
This can potentially wreak havoc to the organisation’s brand reputation and therefore its sustainability.
User-generated content (UGC) is not a new phenomenon.
- If you are looking for a restaurant in your local area, look no further than Urbanspoon or Yelp for ratings and reviews from users.
- If you are interested in a movie, then you might draw on the UGC rankings and reviews on IMDb or Rottentomatoes.
- Keen on buying an app from iTunes or Google Play? You might have stopped your purchase because the UGC rankings on that app were mixed or poor.
One of the newest frontiers of UGC is the anonymous ranking by former employees of their prior employers. It’s not just restaurants, movies or apps that are being ranked. It’s now employers whose brands are being praised and buoyed or trashed and exposed online.
2. Introducing Glassdoor
Glassdoor is a free jobs and career community that offers the world an inside look at jobs and companies.
What sets Glassdoor apart is its “employee generated content” – anonymous salaries, company reviews, interview questions, and more – all posted by employees, job seekers, and sometimes the companies themselves.
Glassdoor is free to join. Based on member preferences, you will be frequently advised of companies that you might be interested to learn more about. At the same time, you will be encouraged to anonymously add to the site’s UGC content, helping to continue to refresh and keep current the content appearing on the Glassdoor site.
Check it out. It might be an eye opener to what is being said about your organisation, your competitors, or your suppliers. If nothing is being said now, it is only a matter of time. The real question is what will be said.
Regardless of whether the content is accurate or not, Glassdoor and other UGC sites play on the adage that ‘perception is reality.’ What visitors read is the perception that they form of your employer brand.
Glassdoor is the current leader of many other websites, like Yelp and Vault that are now moving in to this space.
Online reputation will become central to the ongoing sustainability of companies in the future.
3. How are departing employees handled in your organisation?
In April 2013, CareerSupport365 gathered responses from almost 500 people who lost their jobs, with some interesting findings:
- 91 per cent of people who lost their job felt ‘down about themselves’ and attributed their feelings mostly to their displacement.
- 88 per cent of former employees felt more likely to still talk poorly about their employer within 13 weeks of losing their job.
- 85 per cent of those who knew of Glassdoor and or similar sites were likely to visit the sites and rank their former employer.
- 89 per cent of those laid off employees said they would have felt ‘much more positive’ towards their employer had their former employer provided them with outplacement or career transition support.
- Had they been provided with outplacement or transition services, 95 per cent of people would have felt ‘far less inclined’ to post adverse comments about their own former employers
- 74 per cent of respondents put weight behind most online UGC ratings.
4. What can you do about this?
What is very apparent from the findings of the above research is that it’s just as important to look after employees that you are letting go, as it is when your company employs them.
Offering some form of outplacement support to departing employees may significantly help to alleviate the potential fall out to your employer brand on the internet.
Treating employees with dignity, regardless of their position in the organisation, is not only morally and ethically right, but it makes sound business sense. Remember that anyone — regardless of their former role — has the potential to have a loud voice online.
Those employers who treat all departing staff with dignity — even those who do not perform well — appear to be in the box seat to receive good karma points online. This is one of the keys to long-term sustainability.
Greg Weiss is the Founder of CareerSupport365. He has almost 30 years consulting experience to businesses in HR. He believes ALL employees should be treated well upon their departure. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it protects an employer’s brand and reputation.