Years of unresolved fatigue and burnout, further compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, have led many workers to lose faith in their companies and seek new jobs elsewhere. As part of this search, many workers turn to review sites to find and learn about new opportunities or share workplace horror stories about former employers to warn others.
Human resources managers have expressed concerns about the generally anonymous nature of reviews often posted on platforms such as Reddit and Glassdoor. One site that is causing more and more anxiety is Blind – an anonymous professional network with over 5 million verified workers that has already taken the tech world by storm.
HR professionals say prospective employees now have a skewed image of the workplace and this is making an already difficult recruitment process all the more difficult in a tight labor market, with near record numbers of people leaving their jobs in the midst of an ever-increasing annual salary. growth.
Blind, which launched in South Korea in 2014 and expanded to the United States in 2015, bills itself as a “trusted community where verified professionals connect to discuss what matters most.”
The platform first caught on with Silicon Valley companies like Apple, Google, Meta and Microsoft, where as many as one in four of those companies’ employees used Blind, according to its data.
Amid the pandemic, tech workers dissatisfied with pay and career growth while navigating return-to-work plans have turned to Blind to share their displeasure. Blind says the number of Amazon, Apple, Google and Meta employees who are monthly active users has doubled since the start of the pandemic, while the number of comments on Blind has tripled. The most popular discussions focused on workplace policies related to Covid-19, including layoffs, promotions or raises, remote work, vaccination policies and more.
Blind published an analysis based on its access to employees of some of the largest employers, including Google.
It has also gained popularity in other industries, with the company noting that the number of users outside traditional tech hubs, such as San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Seattle, has tripled during the pandemic.
Paul Wolfe, former CHRO of Indeed and member of the CNBC Workforce Executive Council, said what separates Blind from sites such as Indeed and Glassdoor is that it’s more conversational in nature, and that can lead to more “corporate bashing”. on the site. “That tends, in my opinion, to be a bit more negative,” he said.
At a recent CNBC WEC event, HR managers from all major industries shared their own negative reviews of Blind.
HR managers may feel threatened by the idea of employees going to a site like Blind to voice their concerns instead of an internal channel, but Blind co-founder and chief commercial officer Kyum Kim says its relationship with the HR teams generally goes through three stages. First, HR sees the platform as a liability. Next, they compete with Blind by encouraging employees to voice their concerns directly to HR. Finally, employers view Blind as a resource for identifying internal issues.
Wolfe describes Blind in other ways – as neither strictly an asset nor a liability, but rather a “double-edged sword” and a “necessary evil”.
Anonymity allows users to be vulnerable, according to Chang (Molly) Mao, who holds a doctorate from The Ohio State University, where she studied communication technologies and self-expression. She says anonymity is “the most important thing” for getting employees to voice their concerns, in part because it protects them from retaliatory behavior.
Employers can also rely on this, she said, and the degree of perceived anonymity is important.
“If you really want to promote something anonymous, really do it,” Mao said.
Companies can hide identifiers, such as IP addresses, from internal complaint channels. But if companies aren’t sincere in their attempts to ensure anonymity, employees will lose trust, won’t voice their concerns, and unresolved issues won’t be resolved. This will ultimately lead to a decrease in employee retention, a problem that so many companies are currently facing.
Wolfe said workers’ willingness to voice concerns directly to HR depends on an individual’s experience with HR staff, and companies need to be more attuned to those relationships in the age of platforms. anonymous. If someone has had negative experiences with HR in the past, they will be less likely to come back, even in a different setting.
“HR in general needs to look at their practices and policies and really think about whether they make the most sense when you employ a bunch of human beings,” Wolfe said. “Many HR practices are driven by liability protection from a legal perspective.”
It’s part of the company’s job of protecting, but he added, “you want to create an environment where people are comfortable coming forward.”
Some blind users, who wish to remain anonymous due to their job searches, credit the platform for giving them access to valuable information that helped them network and develop their skills in a new industry and to relaunch their careers.
Blind is growing, with a funding round of $37 million in May last year and total funding of $61 million to date, according to Crunchbase. With the support of its investors, Blind is diversifying and expanding its paid relationships with companies, offering a talent acquisition service that connects job seekers and recruiters, as well as research information to organizations.
Having anonymous activity on the platform monetized and given to employers might concern blind users, but Kim stressed, “We stand for transparency.”
He said the information feature was unveiled to some users before launch and received no negative feedback. Uploading resumes to its talent acquisition service and corresponding identities are separate from Blind’s anonymous forums.
Blind “wants people to talk, businesses to listen, and businesses to change,” Kim said. “We just build products to speed up that process.”
HR is often asked to make decisions based on imperfect and incomplete data, according to Wolfe, and “that’s not ideal for anyone,” he said.
The importance of the relationship between HR and employees is receiving more attention during the current phenomenon of job reshuffling like the Great Resignation. Wolfe describes it as a reassessment of a world population “that really needed it”.
“People are reassessing the way they live their life and they’re trying to make it better for themselves, and I think that’s a good thing,” he said.