Should Employees Be Able to Rate Their Boss and Company?

If you can rate your Uber driver, shouldn’t you be able to rate your boss and your company—all in a public setting for others in a similar circumstance to share your grief and their own observations? It sounds like a great catharsis to me, but many companies, or even most, probably wouldn’t like the idea of employees sharing information about dissatisfaction with treatment by bosses and salary.

All this came to mind when reading in the New York Post last week about a young woman who, ironically, was fired from online review company Yelp for publishing a public, open letter on the Internet about the difficulties of living on her low salary. Shouldn’t Yelp, of all companies, have been sympathetic to the need for open sharing about her employment experience?

Publicly complaining about your company and/or your boss is becoming more common, whether it’s on Facebook, or on a site devoted to such reviews like Wouldn’t it be better to host your own, internal review site? Or are you worried that employees sharing information about dissatisfaction would work against you because it would give them a platform for organizing, almost union-like, to demand changes? I always wondered why we don’t have white-collar unions, and an online review site in which employees can share their experiences might be the first step to making that happen. The only question is whether you want to take measures to keep the conversation private, inside your intranet, or whether you want your employees to take to a public forum such as Glassdoor or a social media site. Funny enough, I can even envision Yelp launching a sister platform for reviewing companies from the employee perspective. Maybe this embarrassment with its own employee will give someone the idea that they should have done this long ago. It’s a great business opportunity.

From a practical perspective, being able to review your boss and company in a public setting, even if only public from inside your company, has some potential benefits. It helps keep the employee playing field more level. If employees can share their salary more widely and easily than just with those sitting in the cubicle next door, and can just as easily compare how their colleagues in other departments are being treated, doesn’t it make it harder for the company to deliver an inconsistent employment experience? If you know your employees are comparing notes on treatment and salary across the company, then your hand is forced in maintaining the same standards for everyone. One person shouldn’t get shoddy treatment just because he happens to have an insensitive, incompetent boss, while another employee is treated with great care just because she has the good fortune of having an intelligent, sensitive boss.

Allowing employees to rate their bosses anonymously, or openly if they choose, also provides an easy way to broadcast satisfaction with a great boss, or gives the employee a way to let the company know that his or her boss isn’t someone anyone would want to work for. If it’s a large company, and the employee is able to truly stay anonymous, such a rating system would even help the executive board weed out the kind of managers that make star employees flee.

If your company is small, you could consider having the review site accessible only to employees and the executive board (no middle managers allowed in), so employees could freely comment without fear that their boss would read their review. Then, quarterly, the executive board, or a designated member of the executive board, could review the reviews and begin the weeding process. I would look forward to the growth that would occur after those weeds are gone. Wouldn’t you?

To keep it from getting too vitriolic, you could even just allow employees to give their managers a star designation, like “This is a five-star boss” or “This is a three-star boss” or “This, I hate to tell you, is a half-of-one-star boss.” Then maybe, like Twitter, you could limit comments to 140 characters or less. That way, you wouldn’t have long, rambling, angry, personal stories to contend with. Those stories could be saved for one-on-one meetings with Human Resources after the executive board flags the manager for investigation.

What are the dangers of an internal ratings site? Would you be concerned about your employees venting in a public setting? What would you do if they did? Would it be grounds for termination, or would it just be grounds for a sympathetic meeting with an HR rep?

I’ve grappled for a long time with the question of how to best inform company leaders of managers who need to go, and internal ratings seem like as good an idea as any. What are some alternatives to an internal ratings site? How does your company create platforms for employees to share grievances in a safe setting that allows for honesty?

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