In today’s fast-paced and highly connected world, companies depend on good online reputations to drive business growth. Unfortunately, business reputations are at the mercy of anyone with a computer or smartphone. With a few clicks of a mouse, someone can post unflattering information, negative reviews, or even outright falsehoods about a company and its products or services. While we cannot control the actions of others, there is one area where companies can exert an impressive amount of control that reinforces great reputations. That area is employee satisfaction – an overlooked aspect of online business reputation management. Even in online reputation management services, employee satisfaction can make or break a company’s business prospects. Let’s take a deeper look at employee satisfaction and how it can influence a business’ online reputation.
Customer vs. Employee Satisfaction
There are many time-honored sayings in the business sector, including “you can’t please everyone every time.” What this means is that no matter how courteous a company’s staff is, how incredible their products or services are, or how value-added a transaction can be, there will come a time when a customer is simply displeased by the encounter. Today, that disgruntled customer is likely to turn to the Web to post a negative review or to slander the efforts of the company – even if that company did nothing wrong.
Employee satisfaction, on the other hand, can be influenced by the employer’s management structure, available benefits, and many other factors. A happy, satisfied employee is one who believes that he or she is an important part of the operating environment, and that his or her efforts are appreciated by management. As with customers, many companies will face a time when an employee simply refuses to be satisfied; an imagined slight or even a clash of personalities can compel that employee to lash out online, potentially harming the business reputation of the company he or she works for. When employees have a high level of satisfaction with their jobs, however, this scenario is far less likely to occur.
The Effects of Management on Employee Satisfaction: A Case Study
In 1999, the Florida Department of Health initiated a system-wide survey of its employees to gain a better understanding of employee satisfaction. Once thousands of employees responded to the survey, the results shocked the agency’s leadership. Employees across the state reported low levels of job satisfaction and a stunning disconnect between management teams and the field employees doing the bulk of the work.
While many companies undertaking such an employee satisfaction survey would be all too willing to continue down the same path – effectively ignoring the complaints and low morale of their employees – the Department of Health took the opportunity to make wholesale changes. The goal was to boost employee satisfaction rates and to be able to produce concrete, measurable results within a year’s time. Some of the solutions were surprisingly easy to implement, and even more cost-effective; one simply asked managers to periodically let their teams know that they were doing valuable work and to reward them for their efforts with simple tokens of appreciation.
After a year of implementing a wide range of operational changes, including frequent staff meetings, incentives for completing projects, team-building exercises, and engagement between management teams and field staff, a follow-up survey was conducted. As hoped, employee satisfaction numbers had improved dramatically. More importantly, employee retention rates improved and held steady throughout the year. Employees now felt as if they were making a difference, and they tended to stick around as the years unfolded.
Employee Satisfaction in the Online Reputation Management Sector
There are literally hundreds of online reputation management services, with a wide array of services to sell and promises to attract new clients. Online reputation management (ORM) is the concept of controlling a client’s reputation – the things people say online about a company or individual and the type of information that can be found in online searches. ORM can be used to restore a damaged reputation or to reinforce an already-good reputation. It can even be used to build brand awareness.
Not all online reputation management services are created equally, however. Quality service providers took the time to learn from the mistakes of others, researching what some of the larger ORM firms’ own employees had to say about the companies. One company called Internet Reputation stands out as a repeat offender, with dismal employee satisfaction rates and even worse online reviews. On Glassdoor, the employer rating website, Internet Reputation has a 3.3 out of 5 star rating. Most of the reviews are negative, with employees voicing their opinions on failures within management. President Blair Brown and her team of managers have made significant missteps, making sky-high promises to attract clients but producing very little in the way of actual results. Some of the most common employee complaints are:
- Management has no business plan for growth
- Management gives no direction to employees
- Managers have publically shamed employees
- Managers are cruel to employees
- The CEO cares more about making money than fulfilling client expectations with a valuable service
To be fair, there are positive reviews mixed in with the negative ones, but several red flags should be noted. First, all of the positive reviews address management – their strengths and attributes – without touching on employee work or team environments. Second, several reviewers have stated that any positive review found on Glassdoor or other sites is fake – with fake reviews being one of the black-hat tricks Internet Reputation uses to boost its client reputations as well as its own standing. Based on the reviews and reports from former employees, it is clear that among online reputation management services, this is one to avoid.
Choosing a Great Online Reputation Management Services Provider
When choosing to restore your company’s reputation or your good name online, reading reviews about potential service providers can provide valuable insights about the company and how its work will benefit you.
A good ORM company is one where employees feel:
- Adequately compensated
- Invested in the success of the company and its clients
It is this latter aspect that means the most. When employees believe in what they do, they are willing to go the extra mile in order to achieve the outcomes desired by their clients. Smaller, more agile ORM companies tailor campaigns for the unique needs of each client, using practices that are proven to produce dramatic results. Choosing the right company can be as simple as that – finding one where employee satisfaction is an integral part of the operating environment. When employees are happy, they are capable of producing on behalf of their clients.