The Rise of “Employer Shaming” (and Why Your Company Should Worry)

March 7, 2016

Thanks to social media and blogging platforms like Medium, companies today are having to deal with a phenomenon I refer to as “employer shaming.” This is the term I use for when employees air their grievances about their employer publicly, which can result in a huge PR disaster for that company. And, I have reason to believe it’s only going to become more and more of an issue for employers.

2 reasons employer shaming is going to get bigger

Employer shaming is going to become very popular. Here’s why:

  1. The war against corporate America is a main topic in politics at the moment. The on-going media messaging that big business is bad, also implies they must be bad employers too. Thus, when employees write subjective, angry posts about employers, their side of the story is given more credit than the employer’s – even if it’s untrue. As a result, even the best attempts to present a positive employer brand will be viewed with suspicion.
  2. Besides being the poster-child for the shared economy, Uber has also been part of an ongoing shift in the employee-employer relationship. The ability to publicly rate one another (i.e. driver and customer) has given way to a whole new concept of mutual accountabilityThis is trickling down into the employment world. We can expect more employees to feel it is their right to express their (dis)satisfaction with their employment arrangement. [Like this employee who had to deal with body shaming from her CEO.] Using social media platforms to gain attention and support for their points of view, employer shaming will be the natural step to vent frustrations.

The best defense is a good offense

Every company reading this should ask, “What would happen if our ex-employees wrote their versions of what it’s like to work here online?” Followed up by, “How many would write something that depicted us as a bad employer?” If you can think of more than a few, then my advice to you is: be proactive and get happy employees to share their stories online so you can at least have some positive employer PR to offset any potential employer shaming that comes up.

Better still, consider offering employees wellness benefits designed to help work through their employment challenges so they don’t become haters. An example of this would be offering private coaching where they can work with and confide in an unbiased outside representative of the company. While internal mentoring and buddy programs help employees adapt to your corporate culture, they don’t proved a safe place for the employee to express deeper concerns without feeling like it could be used against them.

Employer shaming is very real. We are already seeing how ex-employees are sabotaging companies. Don’t let your company be next.

*Image from Bruce Almighty

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