The growing popularity of job review sites like Glassdoor and CareerBliss is causing problems for many companies. We appreciate that these sites are trying to bring more transparency into what it’s like to work at a company—but unfortunately these sites are often not an accurate reflection of the workplace.
To test the accuracy of these sites, we compared WorkplaceDynamics’ data on 406 large companies surveyed in the last year, with those same companies’ corresponding reviews on Glassdoor. We found that there was virtually no correlation—the overall Glassdoor star rating was a very poor indicator of what it is really like to work at a company.
There are two main issues that we identified:
- Glassdoor typically has reviews from only a small percentage of employees at the company. At the 406 companies in the sample, there were 8,123 Glassdoor reviews, an average of 1.6% of the employees. As a comparison, we surveyed 315,212 employees at these companies, an average of 61.5% of the employees.
- Glassdoor reviews are posted by a disproportionate number of “grumpy” employees. We conservatively estimate that a company’s negative employees are 5 to 8 times more likely to post a review on Glassdoor than their positive employees.
These two factors can make the overall Glassdoor scores inaccurate. Good examples of this are Quicken Loans and The Container Store, which we recently named as #1 and #2 on our National Top Workplaces list.
Quicken Loans has a score of 3.2 stars on Glassdoor, and 46% of employees do not recommend this company to a friend (based on 140 reviews).
However, we found in our survey, based on 935 survey responses from employees at Quicken Loans, that only 2% of employees would not recommend the company (with a further 5% neutral). On average, employees rated working at Quicken loans a 90.3 on a scale of 0-99.
The Container Store has a similar score of 3.1 stars on Glassdoor and 46% of employees do not recommend this company to a friend (based on 218 reviews):
We found, based on 1,516 survey responses from employees at The Container Store, that only 3% of employees would not recommend the company (with a further 4% neutral). On average, employees rated working at The Container Store a 90.1 on a scale of 0-99.
So, while the intent of sites like Glassdoor is good, job seekers should think twice before making any decisions based on reviews from these sites when looking for a new employer.
How we did the analysis
As a dataset, we took the WorkplaceDynamics survey responses to the questions ‘I would highly recommend working at this company to others’ and ‘Out of 99 (where 99 is best and 0 is worst), I would rate working at this company as…’ for all the large companies that participated in the Top Workplaces program in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Des Moines, Detroit and Minneapolis, and looked up the corresponding reviews (filtered by location) on Glassdoor for the questions ‘Your overall rating of this company’ and ‘Recommend this employer to a friend?’ There were 406 companies that had corresponding Glassdoor data.
Based on WorkplaceDynamics data (the total employee response rate and percentage of negative and positive responders) , we estimated the total number of grumpy and positive people working in those companies in those regions, and then looked to see the percentage of each category that had left a review on Glassdoor. This gave us the conservative estimate that grumpy employees are 5 to 8 times more likely to leave a review on job review sites than happy employees.