Your Company Story Is Being Written On Social Media

We can’t even hire people anymore.We have so many decliners of our offers. Our Glassdoor ratings are abysmal. They do not seem to understand how drastic this is.

That comment comes from an HR head in New York who is struggling in her role, as well as in the body of the beast. Struggling as in “Can I turn this around or should I go?”

The pendulum has swung

As the saying goes, the pendulum has swung, but this time it is NOT going back. Employees and candidates are now in charge. They are the “deciders.” Organizations at one time were in charge. But in too many cases they got smug and arrogant. While you can say whatever you want on your website, or spout the latest catch phrases, the tide turning means I can now check that out in the social space. What candidates are finding behind the curtain is nothing but empty words — as the saying goes “a mere bag of shells.”

Regardless of your thoughts on the Glassdoor concept, it gives the “mic” to the candidates and your employees. They now have a very public platform to tell their story.

Ignoring the evidence

I remember a consulting assignment I had in Indonesia a few years back where the discussion turned to this very issue. One of the senior executives in the room insisted that Glassdoor was “Just a bunch of disgruntled employees bitchin’ on their way out of the door.” So, we had everyone go to the site and look up the company. All I heard was, “Oh My God,” “Really?” “Wow,” “Look at this,” etc.

That morning we had done a breakout session on culture for their organizations. It was a great session; lots of unvarnished opinions.

So, as we were perusing the site, I glanced at our notes on the wall. They mirrored a lot of these comments. As we studied this real life example, we were able to have a more honest and thorough discussion. Yet, despite our conversation about culture and the public voice social media has given it, the executive refused to yield, regardless of what his eyes – and his classmates — were telling him.

The dynamics of talent has changed. Talented people do not have to put up with a lot of crap anymore. The future will see the rise of the “free agent,” just as in sports. They come to you but for a short period of time unless the opportunity offers growth and development.

Stop looking into the old career advancement model.

Big title, bigger team… NO!

In my time in corporate it was about getting the next promotion and the next big title. While that is still somewhat important today, I am witnessing more of a focus and interest in career growth, upskilling, etc. from this new breed of talent. Do not assume that your traditional career model will work for everyone. They just may not find that appealing.

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My daughter closed a big deal a few years back and, in our conversation I mentioned that she would probably get a promotion out of this accomplishment. Her response to me was, “I do not want a promotion or to manage people, I just want to do interesting work and do deals like this one.” It is called a “student teaching the teacher” moment.

They chose you

Everything we have thought about in our organizations and the workplace will have to be re-examined. The traditional success model we are so proud of in our old school organizations will  have to be dismantled and rebuilt with a new “customer” in mind. That new customer is looking at life and work through a totally new lens. The old model of work and success is now becoming fuzzier as the day goes by.

So realize that you are not the end all, be all anymore. Forgot about how candidates should be glad and excited that you chose them. Think now about how glad you are that THEY CHOSE YOU.

They are in the driver’s seat and you and your organization are just the passenger.

The pendulum has swung.

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I would advise all organizations today, with the focus on HR, to monitor your social space as much as possible. And if you notice your decline rate is increasing, you may have a structural problem.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

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