Making Use of Glassdoor Data

Robert Hohman is co-founder and CEO of Glassdoor, an online community where employees and job-seekers post anonymous information on salaries, company reviews, interview questions, and more, providing a valuable insider's glimpse of what it's like to work at a company. Hohman was on Expedia's  (NASDAQ: EXPE  )  original team, and helped take it public in 1999. He most recently served as president of Expedia's discount division, Hotwire.

Glassdoor data, available free to partners, can be mapped and integrated with other data sources in countless ways to provide valuable insight, such as how company ratings compare to financial performance, or to provide an overall stakeholder view encompassing both employee and customer opinions.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Tom Gardner: Kara, in our People Group at The Motley Fool, wants to know, "Have you ever tried to map the trends on Glassdoor to the company's financial performance?"

Robert Hohman: Have we mapped the trends on Glassdoor to the company's financial performance? We've had various research people -- third parties -- do it. You guys did a great study showing returns of top-rated companies and the outperformance of companies on our Best Places to Work list, so we believe it's there.

What we don't fully understand, candidly, is we don't understand causality. We don't understand exactly which way the causal direction is, but there almost certainly does appear to be correlation.

Gardner: There are always going to be exceptions, and we can all imagine a scenario where a 4.8 rated company goes under and a 2.1 rated company crushes things financially.

Hohman: Yes, that's right.

Gardner: I just want to throw a few ideas at you. This one actually comes from a member, Steven. He wants to know, "Have you ever thought about integrating employee reviews and customer reviews?" Like a Glassdoor / Yelp  (NYSE: YELP  ) -- the combination of those two; a stakeholder view, where you're getting a look at what the shareholder thinks, what the employee thinks, and what the customer thinks, all wrapped into one -- or that's outside the zone of where you're focused?

Hohman: We wouldn't do it, but we actually syndicate our data, and it's available for free to partners. Someone should build that service. That would be something that would be really useful to the investment community, I would think.

Gardner: Have you ever thought about publishing the Top 10 things that you have observed improve a company's culture?

Hohman: Yes ...

Gardner: I was very surprised to see -- very recently I think, in Glassdoor PR maybe, or somewhere you were referenced, though you may not have contributed to the article -- that basically employees across the country view an open floor as somewhat negative, actually.

Hohman: I saw that too.

Gardner: It seems like it facilitates great communication and openness, but actually it takes away some measure of privacy, quiet to get work done, to not have your own office.

Hohman: Yes. We do have an active blog/social media team that is looking for those types of things. I think it's a great idea. The open floor one resonated with me because we've been debating, ourselves. We're moving to a new floor plan. We're debating ourselves on that right now, so yes, it is something we've thought about.

Gardner: Have you guys gone through and seen, "Hey. These six things are being done by the most ..."

Hohman: I think we have. I'm pretty sure we have, yes. I'll have to go back and look at blog posts. I can't remember when we did it most recently, but yes.

Gardner: Because when I read through Facebook  (NASDAQ: FB  ) and Google  (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) -- obviously they're very similar companies in a similar industry, etc. -- there are patterns of what it takes to put your employees on fire, to turn them into entrepreneurs inside of your company, with access to resources and the responsibility and opportunity to create value, themselves, rather than feel like they're reporting up a hierarchical chain.

Hohman: Yes. We've begun to use semantic analysis and word clouds to try and tease more -- at a high level and at a broad data set level -- more meaning out of the large data set. I do think there's some promising things to come out of that.

Gardner: Awesome. Well, we take a lot of value out of the work that you all have done. Actually, one of our members, James Munger wanted to know, "Did you anticipate, when this was all created, that it might have relevance to investors somewhere down the line?"

Hohman: It's funny you ask that. We wanted it to be meaningful in the world, so we dreamed of a time when we would be mentioned in the financial news. It's wonderful that we've gotten there.

We didn't specifically have investors in mind, but we dreamed of a time when it would be so relevant that companies would use it. We're starting to pop up in 10-Qs now, which is great. We knew for a while companies were taking this data into their boardrooms, and they were acting on it and they were talking about it, which I think is incredibly helpful. It's why we do what we do. It's what gets us so excited.

Gardner: Awesome. Robert, thank you very much. It's a very exciting time for you guys and we're benefiting a lot from the work that's going on here. We enjoy what you're doing, and we obviously study it on our own Motley Fool company page, as well. So, thanks very much and thanks for spending time with us.

Hohman: Great. Thank you, Tom.

Gardner: Right on.


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