The Eagles singer may have been talking about the media over 25 years ago when he released his hit single, "Dirty Laundry", but the lyrics and message could be applied just as easily today to online message boards.
They have all the same criteria that Henley alluded to in the song: Innuendo, Gossip, and even Mean-Spiritedness.
Indeed, a series of posts in the New York Times’ Shifting Careers blog over the last week or two discusses the consequences of the online postings for the workplace and suggests that restrictive covenants on employees (like non-disclosure agreements) may be one way to cut down on such postings.
But people being people, there will always be those who will complain anonymous online. What to do about it? In some cases, ignoring it may be the best solution. But if the posts reveal confidential information or make false or disparaging remarks, particularly about the ethics or legality of a business decision, legal action may be needed.
Here’s the truth though about online message boards: while some have popped up, they have also been all over the place. There really hasn’t been any key websites that have taken root with such information. (Yes, I know people get worked up on the Yahoo! Finance Boards, but it’s not as widespread as you might think.)
Until, perhaps, now. A new website, launched in beta mode last month, promises to take employee grievances (and praises) to a whole new level.
It is called Glassdoor.com and its founders have impressive and well-known resumes from websites such as Hotwire and Zillow.
What is it? In their own words:
Glassdoor.com is a career and workplace community where anyone can find and anonymously share real-time reviews, ratings and salary details about specific jobs for specific employers — all for free. What sets us apart is that all our information comes from the people who know these companies best — employees. In the spirit of community, we ask our users to share with each other. That is, before you can access all of the information shared by others in the Glassdoor community, we first ask that you post an anonymous review or salary of your own. By working together to offer an inside look at companies, we can open access and bring greater transparency to information in one of the most important parts of our lives — our work.
What types of information does the website already have online? Detailed company reviews;
Employee ratings on workplace factors and leadership; Real-time salary/compensation details by title and company.
For companies, this website ought to be a wake-up call. It was only a matter of time before someone created the tools to allow employees to communicate with each other and the outside world in a seamless fashion. And wishing it away will not change anything — the Internet is obviously here to stay.
The only path now for companies is how to address this issue. Because companies will address these issues in multiple ways, seeking some guidance on how others have handled this issue and seeking sensible solutions may be a good start. But central to all of this is that companies must understand what is already out there — in terms of technology and in terms of what is written about their company.
And a peek at Glassdoor.com may not hurt either.