The UK's disenchanted workforce: Vexed and vocal online

Kerry Simmons Press Release 5 mins
  • 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

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.

Nick Goldberg, CEO UK & Ireland of Lee Hecht Harrison | Penna, said: “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.

The survey also identified the growing trend of ‘boomerang employees’, as almost four in five (78%) workers would consider returning to an ex-employer if the timing and deal were right, further highlighting the importance for organisations to consider leavers within their talent pipeline programmes.

Nick Goldberg, CEO UK & Ireland of LHH Penna, has put together tips for how employers can manage their employer brand in changing times:

  • Look after your leavers – because they can be some of your best ambassadors. You should do everything you can to smooth their transition and ensure the relationship ends on a good note. When they reach more senior ranks, they may get in touch with new opportunities
  • Engage with social media – one of the most vital online reputation management tips is to be active on social media. This means you can create a positive buzz surrounding your company, while also creating genuine engagement with external stakeholders, which will include previous employees

  • Celebrate success – in an environment where almost every organisation (94%) is undergoing some form of workforce change it has become vitally important to acknowledge and celebrate the successes of those employees who both embrace and thrive in this situation. This injects life into the organisation, making it worthwhile for employees to contribute to the long term success of the company
  • The power of positive press – take control of your online brand by communicating positive news on your website and social media channels and specifically stories that reflect how you operate as a good employer

  • Fostering good working relationships – employee retention remains at the front of every leader’s mind. Our research shows talent might exit your organisation on the basis of poor relations with a manager or colleague so encourage a culture that breeds healthy cooperation and collaboration within the workforce
  • Alumni programme – establishing a corporate alumni network, which requires relatively little investment, is the next logical step in maintaining a relationship of mutual trust, investment and benefit with leavers in an environment where lifetime employment is no longer the norm.

About the research

Opinium conducted the research between 1st – 11th December 2016 among 2,000 UK adults in full-time employment (18 years +).

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