how increased transparency can affect executive recruitment?

As headhunters, one of the questions we get asked most (other than ‘how much is it paying?’) is ‘how is our company perceived out in the wider market?’ It’s something of which busy company directors can easily lose sight. In fact, I’ve been asked that question twice this week.

The nature of my executive recruitment job means I talk to hundreds of people every week, and in doing so I pick up an enormous amount of chatter about how happy (or unhappy) people are in their roles. Sometimes the reasons are personal – say, a lack of opportunities for progression. At other times, they’re directly related to office culture. We get a lot of the latter. If you’re in senior management in the media, the chances are we have a better idea of how prospective employees perceive your company than you do.

Earlier this week, I spent a fascinating half-hour or so on For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a bit like Tripadvisor for job seekers. It give people an opportunity to hear a number of views on what it’s like to work somewhere, before they sign on the dotted line. On my first visit, I immediately looked up 20 companies I’ve worked extensively for in the past. And on every single occasion, the feedback was pretty much as I’d expected.

We’ve spoken to hundreds of companies over the years, from the publishing house that no one ever wants to leave, to the business where the owner-CEO thought it was acceptable to publicly abuse junior employees in the office (even senior management didn’t stick around for long at that place). In the past, employees would let off steam in the pub, you might hear a rumour or two from a friend of a friend. Now, thanks to Glassdoor, those opinions are out there for everyone to read. You can even see whether the workforce has faith in the CEO, which should rightly be terrifying for those who don’t command respect.

Believe me, this stuff matters. A lot of businesses still have an appalling track record with staff retention. And normally, if staff are leaving, it affects a business’s ability to recruit talent as well. Great managers are likely to run a mile from a company with a profile full of horror stories.

Of course, the ability to turn around demoralised teams is an essential quality in any team leader, but there’s only so much they can do if there are endemic cultural problems. No one wants to take on a managerial position where they will struggle to attract, or keep, the best people. If you’re a business owner or manager, it affects your reputation, it affects your brand, and it affects your top and bottom line. Staff morale is an issue that media companies can’t afford to ignore.