Want to Engage Employees? One Factor Makes the Difference

“It’s less expensive to keep an employee than to hire a new one.”

This long-held business maxim about hiring vs. retention is almost cliché by now. But the truth is that the costs of hiring a new employee exceed the costs of engaging and retaining current employees by a tremendous amount. According to a CAP study, the average cost of hiring new employees can range from 16 to 213 percent of their annual salaries.

Why so much?  Think recruiting expenses, interview time, and training. Then consider the impact of personnel changes on team productivity, interpersonal dynamics, and morale. Now, add in the fact that since so many jobs can be done remotely, employment is no longer tied to location – which makes competition for new talent more intense than ever. It all adds up. By contrast, employer branding and employee engagement efforts are far less expensive – if they connect to the one thing all successful retention efforts share.

The #1 Employee Engagement Success Factor

The number of ways to connect with your employees and show that you value them are virtually endless. For instance, you can:

  • Check-in one-on-one with employees to hear concerns and celebrate accomplishments.
  • Send team members thoughtful gifts or cash bonuses for significant achievements.
  • Create videos featuring employees to celebrate big wins and achievements.
  • Recreate in-office perks for employees working from home. For instance, if your in-office tradition included “Friday morning bagels,” reimburse breakfast purchases once a week.
  • Give employees a universal day off for self-care.
  • Offer the occasional no-pressure “happy hour” online. At the same time, recognize the realities of “Zoom Fatigue” and give your people breaks from being “always on-air.”

They’re all great ideas. But the success of these efforts will always hinge on one crucial component: How authentically they map to the organization’s internal work culture.

Why Culture Matters – and How to Make Yours Better

If your culture reinforces appreciation for employees as people, making them feel that they belong, gestures of gratitude will reinforce that culture, reminding employees why they love working there. If the day-to-day work experience is cold, impersonal, or insecure, however, no words or gestures – no matter how creative, heartfelt, or elaborate they are – will hit home.

Which sounds like your company – the warm, appreciative culture or the chilly, disconnected one? Either way, we’ve identified five things you can do to improve.

  1. Clarify your employer brand. Be clear about who you are, what you value, and why you exist as an organization. Successful employer branding depends on how well your employees' expectations match the reality of working for your company.
  1. Recognize that your people are actually, you know, people. We used to talk about “work-life balance.” Now, with so many of us working from home, it’s closer to “work-life integration.” Children, pets, and other life components naturally intersect with the workday. So, enable the flexibility your people need to be present in their lives AND meet their jobs' demands.
  1. Encourage, recognize and reward contributions. If you want to empower employees to work hard for your company, be clear about your expectations, recognize how their work contributes to the company's success, and reward those successes with praise and, when appropriate, tangible compensation in the form of time or money.
  1. Build teamwork and trust. No one works well when they feel unduly scrutinized or if petty conflicts discourage effective collaboration. Celebrate teamwork, identify and resolve conflicts quickly and fairly, and avoid any appearance of “playing favorites” among your employees.
  1. Listen up! Solicit your employees' opinions in ways that neither punish criticism nor reward flattery. Your people have perspectives on your business that may differ from your own – but are no less valid. Ask for honest feedback – and respond when they offer opportunities for improvement.

You probably can tell - employer branding and employee engagement are a passion for us at Relish Marketing. If they're important to you, too – we'd love to hear about your challenges, your successes, and what you aim to achieve next. Drop us a note or call and let’s make a difference together.


Employee Value Proposition, EVP, employer brand, employer branding, COVID19

Who needs an employee value proposition? You do – especially now.

In today’s uncertain times, having a clear employee value proposition (EVP) and employer brand may be more critical to your business success than ever before. Even if you’re not actively hiring right now – or are even focusing your attention on layoffs and pay reductions – defining and managing your EVP is essential as you work to shepherd your business through a global pandemic. After all, you need your current workforce to remain committed and loyal to your business. And, as businesses regain strength after COVID-19, a well-defined EVP and employer brand will help you attract, hire and retain the people you need to take your organization forward.

EVP versus employer brand

Let’s start with a couple of definitions. Your EVP is an internal strategic articulation of what the business provides to – and expects from – employees. Your employer brand brings that value proposition to life for candidates, new hires and longtime employees.

An EVP without an employer brand is dry and won’t resonate with everyone it should. And an employer brand without an EVP is an empty promise. In other words, you should have both. Success starts with a clear EVP, which can help you:

  • Provide focus and clarity about your company’s purpose and culture.
  • Attract the right people with the right talent necessary for the business to move forward.
  • Align your talent initiatives with corporate strategy (and therefore reinforce it).
  • Crystalize what people should understand about your corporate culture.

How to start the process of developing an EVP

There’s no such thing as a quick guide to a process that, by definition, is complex and nuanced. But we do want to offer some helpful guidance because the process of developing an EVP can shine a light on opportunities for internal improvements. Not all processes are the same, and you should be cautious about trying to develop your EVP internally. Like trying to put out a fire from inside a burning building, it’s possible – but it helps to bring in some outside perspective and expertise. If you try to gather insights from your employees, they may be so uncomfortable sharing anything less than “ideal” that all you get is an echo of what employees think that leadership wants to hear. In other words, you may not get the kind of accurate input you need.

Of course, not all processes are the same, nor is every process right for every organization. When choosing a partner to help you with your employer brand, here are a few questions to ask – and answers to look for:

  • How have you helped others develop their employer brands? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them? Seek substantial experience helping multiple clients in multiple industries. Listen for what potential partners consider to be a challenge, as well as the capabilities and demeanor they bring to achieving resolution.
  • Our biggest recruitment/hiring/retention issue right now is [insert issue here]. Will the EVP you help us develop overcome that? The right EVP partner will help you address critical issues, especially those related to gaps between what candidates and employees expect and the experience you deliver as an employer. They’ll also show you how elevating your EVP just enough can help you pull your workforce from its current state toward who and where you want to be, in a way that’s more than talk.
  • What should we expect from your EVP development process? Look for a thorough process that gathers and analyzes input and insights, not only from executives, but also from multiple people representing multiple levels of your organization, as well as current candidates and former employees. At the same time, you want to be sure that the process will deliver results in a way that doesn’t waste your time.
  • What metrics does your process include? How will you help us evaluate effectiveness and resonance with our key audiences? The best EVPs can be backed up by research. And, you want a partner who will stand by their work, helping you test messages and make adjustments to get it right.

The importance of reevaluating your EVP (at the right time)

When you live and breathe your EVP every day, it can be tempting to want to update or “freshen it up” after a year or so. Be careful before you give in to that impulse. Consistency is critical to help audiences truly grasp your EVP over time. Even in unusual times like these, we recommend that companies do what they can to remain true to EVPs that have helped attract and retain employees who are loyal company advocates.

That said, while a well-crafted EVP should be robust enough to provide clear employer branding direction for three to five years, today’s times may be disruptive enough to warrant an update. Likewise, you’ll want to revisit your EVP and employer brand if you’re experiencing other major disruptions such as:

  • Significant changes in corporate structure (i.e., acquisitions, new leadership).
  • Industry changes (such as those that might dictate a shift from a manufacturing model to a service model).
  • A past problem on which you’re making significant progress (i.e., surveyed employees have illuminated an issue).
  • Competitive threats (i.e., they have a better, more attractive EVP than you and are winning away talent).
  • Competitive opportunities (i.e., you have a better, more attractive EVP, but not enough people recognize it).

Bottom line: Whether you’re striving to keep your current employees engaged or you’re looking ahead to new workforce needs, the right EVP can help you stack the deck in your favor.


*Adapted from the article by Relish Marketing President, Pam Willoughby for the Atlanta Business Chronicle Leadership Trust.

Maintaining Corporate Culture in a Crisis

Employer Branding in the Time of COVID-19

Today's coronavirus crisis has most of us trying to work productively from home, manage a distributed workforce and keep business alive. It's a lot to balance – which means that you might rank Employer Branding low on the priorities list. That would be a mistake. Yes, your employer brand should attract applicants and inspire them to accept offers. But great employer brands also keep employees inspired and motivated over time. They drive former employees to remain loyal advocates for the company, too. And if ever there were a need for inspiration and loyal advocacy, it's now.

For many companies, the COVID-19 pandemic is demonstrating that corporate culture was never limited only to the human resources department – or even only to the office. And that realization is important for several reasons:

  • Employees are likely worried about whether business will continue strongly enough to keep them employed.
  • Insecurity reigns, with people scrutinizing everything from the nuances of expressions during Zoom calls to what others are saying offline.
  • Layoffs are happening – if not to your team members, then certainly to people they know, which intensifies anxieties.
  • Applicants may be feeling unsure about their status and whether the job still exists.
  • New hires probably wonder if work they signed on for is what they’ll actually be doing.
  • Finally – and don’t kid yourself about this part – your employees are probably using some of this time to figure out what’s next for them when normalcy returns – and whether it will involve your company at all.

In short: your employees need some consistent reassurance. And they need it from you.

We get it.  When changes in your business, your industry, the country and the world occur on nearly an hour-by-hour basis, it’s hard to craft perfect employee communications. Forget about perfect and instead go for regular, open and honest. Think about the hallmarks of your corporate culture and how you can continue to reinforce them. Ask yourself: How has the experience of working for the company changed, and what can you do to keep its hallmarks consistent for your employees?

Consider what we’ve started doing at Relish. Every Friday afternoon, we set up a Zoom meeting – not to discuss business specifically, but just to share stories and laugh together with some snacks and beverages of our choosing, as we often did on any given Friday in the office. Or, take a cue from Inc. Magazine (where – full disclosure – my son, Cameron, is a reporter). Inc.’s publishing company had long provided bagels for all staff members on Fridays. The company’s leaders realized that the tradition would be missed, so they instituted a way to keep the practice going – basically paying for all employees to order bagels on Fridays from any local shop that would deliver. Cameron affirms that the breakfast treats are much appreciated. However, the feelings of warmth and connection that those bagels engender are what the company is really bringing home to its team members and their families.

If you still feel like employer branding needs to take a back seat to other, more pressing needs, we’ve got your back. Call us and let’s bounce around some ideas about current challenges, branding and communications. We may be able to help. Regardless, if you use this time to solidify your employer brand and communicate it well, you’ll deliver some powerful support to your employees through the current crisis as well as after it ends.

Get Out of the Silo: Integrate Your Marketing in 2020

One-off marketing is one of the biggest mistakes businesses make. We understand why it happens. Sometimes, it's because they're afraid to commit to more than one thing at a time. Other times, it occurs when the marketing team doesn't have a seat at the strategy table. So, they're forced to work in reaction to short-term sales needs, or leadership’s "idea of the month." But, whatever the reason, not integrating your marketing in 2020 may be expensive on three levels.

First, individual, disparate marketing efforts are inefficient. They require new strategy and new content every time, whereas Integrated marketing allows you to develop strategy and content designed to leverage across multiple media. It's the difference between taking a 50-mile drive in which you stop the engine every two miles and one in which you simply drive the distance.

Secondly, one-off marketing is ineffective. Few prospects, if any, will make a buying decision based on reviewing one piece of collateral, visiting the trade show booth, reading one blog post, seeing an advertisement, noticing mentions on social media, or going to the company website. For them to get your message, you have to reach them multiple times, at critical moments in their decision cycle. If you put all your money into, say, your website, how do you expect to get people to click to it? If all you focus on is your trade show, how will you keep visitors' attention the week after the show is over? How about the month after the show?

Thirdly, siloed marketing efforts can cost you brand equity. By treating each new project as its own entity, you put your brand continuity at risk. It's easy to inadvertently "evolve" your core messages before your audiences have had a chance to grasp them. Shift your messaging even a little bit, and before long, your content will be off-brand, serving a short-term need at the expense of long-term presence and recognition.

The time has come to put a stop to all that. Here’s how to integrate your marketing for success in 2020:

1. Start with your 2020 marketing goals. Even the most ingenious concepts and messaging will be useless if they don't connect directly to your strategic goals. Consider where your content should feel fresh and new, and where it should reinforce and reiterate. Group your initiative components to show you where you can leverage content and design elements for the greatest efficiency and effectiveness.

2. Take a good look at the people you need to reach – be they prospective and current customers, potential, new and long-term employees, or thought leaders and influencers. Who are they? What do they want and need? What engages and excites them, and what stresses them out? And how can you connect with them, deliver what they want and help solve the problems that stress them?

3. Determine where these people are and how they work. What kind of information do they need on a day-to-day basis? How do they prefer to find and consume content – formally or informally, in texts, emails, whitepapers or video? Who are their trusted resources? Do they communicate via email, text, or phone? How do they use social media? What meetings and trade shows do they attend? What do they read, watch and hear? What websites do they frequent? The answers to these questions will tell you how and where to focus your communications.

4. Make tough choices. Unless you have unlimited funds, you can’t do everything. Go back to those 2020 priorities and determine what must be done immediately, in the near term and later. Measure those most critical goals against how, and through what media, you will pursue them.

Be strategic, and you will be able to develop the right integrated marketing approach to achieve the results you need for 2020 success.

jobs vs. careers, Employer Value Proposition

Building Careers or Filling Jobs?

New Research Says the Answer Matters

Here at Relish Marketing, we’re always watching the latest research and trends having to do with how successful organizations present their employer value propositions (EVPs) to candidates and employees. And the latest research from multiple sources indicates highly compelling direction for employers seeking to attract and retain talent in today’s turbulent times. It all centers around the difference between just having a job and pursuing a career.

Jobs vs. Careers: What’s the difference?

Functionally, the difference between a job and a career is huge – for your employees and your business. Jobs are short-term, whereas careers are built over time. A job is a means to an end – something people do to earn money. A career is an end in and of itself. A job offers a checklist of to-dos. A career provides a sense of purpose.

Statistically, the difference is striking. According to a recent survey by The Harris Poll for CareerBuilder, 50 percent of all employees feel like they have careers, while 50 percent feel like they only have jobs. Likewise, approximately one-third of those surveyed expressed satisfaction with opportunities for career advancement at their companies, while about one third indicated a plan to change jobs within a year.

It’s an even balance – but according to the latest Manpower survey of 40,000 employers, these numbers should worry employers, 45 percent of whom are struggling to fill roles. They should look even more disturbing to large employers, 67 percent of whom have this problem.

Think of it this way: If you’re like most large employers (or nearly half of all businesses) you’re working hard to fill open positions at your company – but the results aren’t happening the way they should. Meanwhile, about a third of your employees are thinking of leaving within the year. And fully half of your employees do not come to work the sense of commitment, purpose and drive that your other half do.

Learn from successful companies – and the talent they attract  

A survey of the World’s Most Attractive Employers - companies where job candidates are flocking - highlights a critical differentiator. More than half of these star companies (54%) emphasize an "inspiring purpose" in their Employer Value Propositions. This distinctive characteristic shouldn't come as a surprise, given a Universum survey of young professionals, in which Millennial and GenZ candidates rank "being dedicated to a cause" or "serving a greater good" as top career goals.

The Universum study also highlights a trend away from EVPs focused on formal professional development programs and following established career paths within a company. That's because younger talent is shunning defined career ladders and formal training in favor of more fluid career journeys and on-the-job learning.

Take a Fresh Look at Your EVP

Your EVP matters more than ever before – especially to highly desirable young talent. It must authentically represent the experience of working at your company. And that experience should offer ways in which you help team members build their careers through intrinsic growth experiences and the ability to contribute to an inspiring purpose.

Who Do Your Job Posts Attract?

The answer:  Maybe not who you think! If your job descriptions are like most, they probably explain how senior management perceives the job, not what a candidate wants to know. For instance, a recent glance at LinkedIn and Monster.com yielded these gems:

The main responsibility of the role is to understand, identify, drive, and manage efficiencies and cost improvement opportunities.

This employee will ensure all financial information issued to wider business is correct and validated by all stakeholders.

Job responsibilities include overseeing a talented team working on high visibility projects while cultivating an environment of sustained creativity and professional growth.

Not exactly inspiring, are they? That’s because they’re written for HR leaders, not your ideal candidates. More importantly, they lack the messaging, authenticity and cultural voice that communicate what it’s like to work at the company and why people enjoy it – In other words, your employer brand. And, if your job descriptions are technically accurate but motivationally empty, you’re likely to attract people with the right skills, but not the right fit.

Fortunately, here are four steps you can take to ensure your job posts reinforce your employer brand and attract people who have the capabilities you need and who also belong at your company:

  1. Remember your audience. Most job posts read as if they were written to fulfill specific job parameters. Instead, write your descriptions for your ideal candidate. If you're looking for a creative marketing writer, don't be afraid to express your needs in a creative, clever, or even slightly poetic way. If you're looking for an engineer, write precisely and concisely about how they will be able to innovate and solve problems.


  1. Remember your identity. Be clear not only about what you do but also who you are as an organization – what it feels like to work there and the kind of people who should find it engaging. If the personality of your company is energetic and fun, your descriptions should feel that way, too.


  1. Empathize. Show that you understand the challenges that people in this type of position often face – and what your company does to reduce the impact of those challenges – or make them easier to overcome.


  1. Be clear. Tell your prospective candidates what they can expect to do in this position – in language that makes sense to them. Instead of saying that they’ll be managing efficiencies and cost improvement opportunities, say (for instance) that they’ll be responsible for tracking costs, managing specific budgets and developing supply chain procedures for vendors.


If you’re still struggling with how to pull away from the usual way of writing job descriptions, take a look at how these companies are doing it:

Who’s right for this job? A negotiator. An ambitious lead generator. Someone who is driven to go above and beyond for customers. (ADT)

Under Armour is all about performance. Because. What we make empowers athletes in every form to push themselves to turn good into great, and to stay hungry for whatever comes next. And this is exactly what we expect from each other. (Under Armour)

 We’re looking for someone who has experience working across many technologies/projects and wants the chance to lead a growing team of hungry, hard-working, local developers… if you’re tired of the mundane cubicle jobs and want to join a friendly, passionate team with limitless potential, we’d love to meet you. (Wildebeest)

And, if you really want to go all-out, you could try something like this.

However you do it, allow your employer brand to shine through in your job postings, and you’ll be more likely to attract the people you truly want for those positions.


Is your Recruitment Marketing leading the pack or trailing behind?

In the hyper-competitive talent marketplace, your recruitment marketing has to do more than get candidates to your job listings. As employers, we must engage with job seekers and employees throughout the candidate journey to build awareness for our employer brand, persuade the right talent to apply, create a frictionless candidate experience, and build a culture that values and supports our people, customers and communities. With so many priorities, where should you focus your recruitment marketing efforts for maximum impact?

We culled the most recent employer branding and recruitment marketing research to bring you the latest intel on the most relevant areas on which to focus. Dialing up your efforts in these high-impact zones will help elevate your employer brand, set your organization apart and activate interest among candidates.

According to The 2019 Recruitment Marketing Benchmark Report, recruitment marketing leaders differentiate their practices across six core categories:

Employer Branding: Leading organizations are much more likely to share employee stories (both video and narrative) and to invest in separate career profile or hashtag on social media platforms.

Initiative Hiring: Top employers offer content on opportunities for diverse candidates, veterans and students as well as conduct recruitment events.

Content:  As opposed to their peers, recruitment marketing leaders are more likely to post content beyond job openings on social, provide details on their application and hiring process and publish a blog.

Nurture: Leading employers are nearly eight times more likely to host a talent network for interested candidates with job alerts and monthly communications.

SEO: Top employers are more likely to optimize their career site for Google Jobs and to SEO-optimize their job landing pages.

Personalization: While adoption is building in this category, leading employers are more likely to incorporate a chatbot into their career site, send personalized job opportunities to candidates, distribute content based on the candidate’s job family and skills, and enable candidates to customize their talent network communication preferences.

The 2019 Fortune 500 Employer Brand Report assesses Fortune 500 employers across four categories:

Awareness and Attraction: Interestingly, recruitment marketing is the most overlooked element among those studied in this report. 73% of the Fortune 500 scored 10 or fewer points (out of 20) for this category, which includes talent community, blog, career-specific social media pages, employee testimonials and recruitment programs for veterans, university and diversity and inclusion.

Recruitment: Top employers advertise on designated job boards as well as on key social media sites. In addition, top-scoring employers have robust career websites that provide insight into the company’s culture and values alongside info on career paths, benefits and learning and development opportunities. And, leading employers incorporate AI chatbots and virtual reality games into their career site experiences.

Candidate Experience: More than ever, employers are treating candidates like customers, seeking to enhance their experience across all stages of the application, interviewing and hiring process. Key to this experience is transparency, and top employers embrace this with live Glassdoor integrations on their career sites, candidate feedback surveys and active employee referral programs.

Employee Experience: Leading employers recognize the power of external accolades to sway candidates – especially awards that are based on employee surveys, such as “Great Places to Work.” In addition, employers know that candidates seek out companies that have strong corporate social responsibility programs, and many candidates will pass on a company whose corporate values do not align with theirs. Top companies showcase their corporate values, community outreach, environmental stewardship and sustainable practices on their career sites and via social media.

How to differentiate your employer brand

  1. Enable tech work to for you – Incorporate technology that will add significantly to candidates’ and recruiters’ experience including optimizing job pages for Google Jobs and incorporating a live Glass door integration to your career site.
  2. Share the culture through storytelling – Employee testimonials, ‘day in the life’ type videos and career paths shared across your career site and social media platforms will help candidates determine if your culture is the right place for them.
  3. Maintain the conversation – While a candidate may not be ready today for your job opportunity, they may be perfect for another opening in six months. Keep them engaged with relevant and personalized content delivered when and how they like.

employer brand activation

How to Keep Your Employer Brand from Becoming Shelfware

Congratulations on your new employer brand! To keep it from becoming "shelfware," you need an employer brand activation plan!

You’ve invested in taking a clear look at what it’s like – and what it should be like – to work at your company. You’ve gone through exercises and interviews with executives, employees, partners and customers. And now, you have a logo, look, feel and message platform about who should be attracted to your business, why they should love working there, and even why they should still feel the love if they retire or move on. You have an employer brand.

Unfortunately, that’s where the effort stops in many organizations. The process of developing that employer brand feels like a complete effort, in and of itself. So, after reveling in the accomplishment, the employer brand is slid behind more pressing work, sometimes relegated to “shelfware.”

Development of your employer brand should be the start of the process, not the finish line. The next steps should infuse your brand through every point of contact where current, future and even former employees interact with your organization. Which means you need a brand activation plan.

Components of Your Activation Plan

Activating your brand will require launching it to both internal and external audiences and reinforcing it as part of your corporate culture. Internally, that means you’ll need to engage your leadership and Human Resources/Talent team. Identify and work with ambassadors – core people at multiple levels of the company who both personify the brand and will be committed to supporting it. Introduce the program to employees in a way that involves them and helps them to feel part of its success. Keep the momentum going throughout the year with opportunities that reinforce connection, encourage sharing through referral programs, and communications that showcase employees. Incorporate your new brand into onboarding materials as well, so that new employees feel connected to your culture right away. And, don’t forget about opportunities to engage “alumni,” reminding them that even as they move onto other opportunities, they’re still part of your company story.

Externally, seek ways to weave your employer brand through all the points of contact that touch potential employment candidates and applicants – including the careers area of your website (or even a separate site entirely) and social media. Make sure to write job descriptions in ways that reflect your employer brand’s tone and messages. Make sure your presence at recruitment events does the same. You’ll want to make sure that key external recruiters are up to date on the employer brand, too.

Set Yourself Up to Succeed

Building awareness of the qualities that make your organization a uniquely desirable workplace is a huge but important undertaking! Fortunately, we have some essential advice to keep in mind to help you successfully implement your employer brand.

  1. Your employees are critical partners in this effort. Keep the tone positive and inclusive. Involve them as much as possible – from requesting feedback while the brand is in development to listening to continued feedback as you launch. Keep in mind that your employer brand is being launched for and with them, not to them or at them.
  2. Your employer brand should reflect the presence of your employees. Consider showcasing people who personify your brand attributes – both through internal communications and on candidate-facing materials. It’s easier for employees to embrace your employer brand when they can recognize themselves as part of it.
  3. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Resist the temptation to do everything at once – or to change your employer brand after a few months of living and breathing it every day. It will take time to become a natural part of your culture and communications. Create achievable milestones with metrics within your long-term schedule for involving team members and reinforcing the brand.

Bonus tip: Building awareness of what makes your organization uniquely desirable – both internally and externally – will require both great effort and attention to detail across multiple training and communications axes. So, look to a partner who can help you activate your employer brand and measure your progress. (Full disclosure: We offer this kind of support, as well as employer brand development, here at Relish.)

In short: Don’t stop with the development of your program concept, name and messages. Infuse it through your corporate culture and out in the world. That’s when you’ll see results come to life, delivering the best possible return on your employer branding investment.

At Relish Marketing, our fusion of creative and strategy unlocks your brand and propels it forward.
Savor your brand. View our brand development client work. Work with us! Contact here.

Why You Should Never “Incentivize” Employees to Boost Glassdoor Ratings

When we saw last week’s article in the Wall Street Journal exposing how some businesses have driven spikes in 5-star Glassdoor ratings, it hit us right in our employer brand-loving hearts. The article revealed that some companies periodically pressure employees to help their companies make Glassdoor’s “Best” list or offer incentives in return for completing reviews. And we’re here to affirm – you should never incentivize employees to boost Glassdoor ratings.

The problem with the approach taken by some of the companies profiled in the WSJ article is twofold: First, they try to “game the system” rather than enable organic, authentic input from employees. Second, they assume that elevating or maintaining high Glassdoor ratings can be a quick, one-time effort.

In our work with a variety of employers, we encourage our clients to think of Glassdoor and other employer review sites in the context of a deep, multi-faceted, ongoing employer branding effort, led by a few basic tenets:

  1. Encourage ongoing feedback. It’s fine to encourage employees to post Glassdoor ratings, but this should be in the context of ongoing communication efforts. When you make a concerted push for 5-star ratings, say, in the month before the site publishes its “Best Workplaces” lists, the spike is noticeable – and could be flagged for inappropriate activity.
  1. Seek authentic feedback. Resist the impulse to suggest that your employees leave positive reviews or guide them in selecting “5-star” ratings. An authentic employer branding program that helps employees feel valued and appreciated will do more to present an honest picture of your company than coercing – however gently – a specific response. And, leave the swag behind. Offering incentives in exchange for completing reviews undermines authenticity and may leave your employees feeling manipulated.
  1. Invite everyone. Rather than request reviews from only those employees from whom you expect positive reviews, cast a wide net so that all employees feel encouraged to share. After all, the reviews – positive and negative – provide valuable insight on how your employees feel about the workplace.
  1. Examine your business with more scrutiny than your Glassdoor ratings. Reading Glassdoor posts is for employers what reading reviews is for actors and artists. It’s a good tool to help you recognize strengths on which you should build, as well as opportunities for you to improve. So, look for what it says about you in the aggregate, and be willing to scrutinize how and where you can start to make improvements.
  1. Make it easy – and non-punitive – for employees to share concerns. The easier you make it for employees to share concerns with you in an open, honest manner, the more likely they’ll be to help you make improvements, rather than voicing their frustrations online.

Above all, remember that consistency is essential to creating a welcoming, supportive workplace that makes employees happy to come to work each day. And it’s a long game. So, avoid “flavor of the month” engagement programs that change with the latest online reviews. Instead, think of it the way you might think of driving a car – pay attention to what’s immediately around you, but always keep your eyes focused further ahead to where you are going. And when negative reviews DO appear, respond promptly with an eye toward the future.

At Relish Marketing, we help our clients recognize that Glassdoor ratings are one component of their overall employer brand. When, what and how you communicate – with candidates, new hires, current employees and recruiters – make more of a difference in how potential employees see you than any online rating system.


At Relish Marketing, our fusion of creative and strategy unlocks your brand and propels it forward.
Savor your brand. View our client workWork with us! Contact here.


welcome original thinkers

Why Are Some Teams More Innovative?

“Why are some teams more innovative than others?” That’s a question that can make or break a business’ success. What's the secret to innovative teams? Innovative companies recognize that the best hires not only come to their teams with the right talent, skills, and experience; they also think and work in ways that match and complement each other. This understanding is the basis behind Kimberly-Clark’s award-winning Welcome Original Thinkers program.

In this recruiter.com story, industrial/organizational psychologist and Kimberly-Clark senior talent management consultant, Dr. Beth Demko, highlights the need to balance a blend of multiple ways of thinking with the need to solve problems and achieve results. In defining the secret to innovative teams, Dr. Demko writes, “Developing innovative solutions requires looking at problems and opportunities from different angles. To do this, teams need to be composed of members with a variety of thinking styles and diverse skill sets and experiences.” Dr. Demko also explains, “Mixing different personalities in a workgroup can guard against groupthink, a situation in which team members become so similar in outlook that they lose their capacity for creative thinking.”

Kimberly-Clark relies on Relish Marketing and other agencies to help the company continue to develop and grow its Welcome Original Thinkers approach – from the program’s launch in 2016 to the publication of expanded guides for each Original Thinker type to the company’s IdeaStorm approach to collaborative brainstorming.

Dr. Demko’s article appears as part of a series on “The Innovators” and includes insights into how Kimberly-Clark defines Original Thinking, as well as specific ways for any business to improve their teams’ creativity and effectiveness. It’s a rare peek into the science behind the success of the Kimberly-Clark approach – and we’re glad to be able to share it with you.

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