May 2016

Tracking Reputation Amongst Employees

Employee Sentiment Analysis – What Lies Behind the Smile?

Engaged and happy employees perform better and deliver more.

Common sense, right? This is a concept supported by vast swathes of empirical evidence that suggest that negative feelings, such as anxiety or boredom, inhibit decision-making and destroy productivity. Conversely, positive feelings, such as happiness and fulfilment, encourage collaboration and facilitate creativity.

But how confident are you that your employee value proposition – the combination of incentives, development opportunities, and overall work experience offered by your organisation – is valued by your potential and current employees and motivating them to work at their best?

Engagement surveys and one-to-one interviews can provide a degree of insight into how employees and potential recruits feel about working for your organisation and its impact on their motivation. But these conventional methods are far from perfect. With interviews, people can feel reluctant to say what they really think, choosing instead to say what they think they ought to say. With surveys, people can only give answers to the questions that are asked, so the result can be an incomplete or even a distorted picture of attitudes and opinions.

So, how can you find out what your people and the wider talent pool really think of your organisation’s employee value proposition? How can you get inside the heads (and hearts) of current and potential employees to build an engaged and productive workforce?

How online data delivers richer insight

The internet can offer a hugely rich source of employee insight. With expert analysis, the sentiments expressed through social platforms, such as Twitter and online forums, can help you understand how your organisation is perceived and how much your employee proposition is valued. This creates a far firmer foundation for building an employer profile that attracts the people you want and an employee offer that works harder to drive engagement and productivity once they’re on board.

Our Employer Brand Tracker measures organisational reputation and employee sentiment through a technique called Qualimetrics. The methodology captures vast quantities of publically available data from social media, job and employer forums and search data, and applies sophisticated analysis to identify and track relevant themes. Importantly, the approach does not involve tracking individuals (only themes) so privacy is not compromised.

Employer Brand Tracker is used to assess both positive and negative emotion over time, and can identify and adjust for people venting in response to isolated incidents.  The methodology uses a combination of automated and human analysis to eliminate content from bots, spot sarcasm and ‘memes’ and pick up on widely used acronyms, making it more accurate than ‘out of the box’ software packages . All in all, the approach can deliver a much richer picture of an organisation’s employer reputation than conventional surveys and interviews alone. 

A tale of two coffee shops

We recently undertook an Employee Brand Tracker to compare Costa and Starbucks. 

  • Comparing the sentiment of what each offers to the employee vs what employees talk most about
  • Comparing the rates of job seeking over time for both employers
  • Analysis of sentiment of employees by geographic region
  • Analysis of emotional sentiment towards various workplace elements and comparisons between the two shops.


Insights were rich and included

  • Despite wages at Costa being perceived as lower, the organisation is considered a better place to work, to have better management and, in general, be an all-round ‘good’ company.
  • At Costa, managers prioritise pay and bonuses (31% against baristas’ 11%), while baristas were driven more by the satisfaction of serving happy customers and learning opportunities (51% against managers’ 22%).  
  • When the two brands went head to head on reputation, the study showed that, overall, people applying for jobs with the two coffee shops rated Costa more highly as an employer than Starbucks


The better you understand your organisation’s reputation as an employer, the better placed you are to build an employee value proposition that maps directly to the priorities of people you want to recruit and retain.

Having an in-depth, accurate understanding of what different groups of employees value means you can invest in a proposition that really works to motivate them. With a perfectly calibrated employee value proposition – built around what talent wants, not what you think it wants – you’re well positioned to reap the benefits of a happy and engaged workforce.