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Australia’s crippling labour shortage- Is your online reputation contributing to your hiring struggle?

Roisin Henden

Before going on a first date with someone, you find their profile on Facebook. Before going to a new restaurant, you browse their Instagram photos. As such, it’s no surprise that a recent Indeed survey found that before applying for a job, 83 per cent of job seekers will search a company’s employee and consumer reviews.

With Australia currently experiencing a national labour shortage, it’s as imperative as ever for businesses to ensure that their online brand image isn’t negatively impacting their recruitment and hiring strategy. 

The current crippling labour shortage

One of the many lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is a surge in job vacancies and a serious labour drought. As Bjorn Jarvis, head of Labour Statistics at the ABS explains,

“The number of job vacancies in November was around 74 per cent higher than it was before the start of the pandemic.”

This significant increase is having a monumental impact on the operation of businesses around Australia. 

To convert this percentage into the number of jobs, businesses have been trying to hire “almost 400,000 workers to fill vacant positions”, even before the omicron virus wave amplified the labour shortage. 

In what should be a time of recovery and redemption for businesses, “a record 85 per cent of Australian businesses report staff shortages are holding back their ability to operate at full capacity and capitalise on the $245 billion in household savings stashed away during the pandemic.

Would you work for a company with a bad reputation?
Would you work for a company with a bad reputation?

The main cause of this shortage

The cause of this skill shortage has been primarily attributed to the closure of the border to foreign visa holders up until December 15 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Megan Lilly, Executive Director for education and training for the Australian Industry Group, summarised the impact of this closure perfectly when she states “quite simply, our available supply of skilled labour has shrunk since the commencement of the pandemic — the result of a lack of skilled migration, international students, backpackers, and other workers in Australia returning to their country of origin.”

Online brand reputation.
Your online brand reputation is proof of how great, good or terrible you are at doing business!

No end in sight

Unfortunately, we haven’t seen the end of it. According to ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar, “the worker shortage is getting worse by the day”. This was further supported by the preliminary Internet Vacancy Index released by the National Skills Commission at the end of 2021 which found that the problem is only set to grow in 2022. 

With no immediate end in sight, it is essential to ensure that companies are investing time and effort into their hiring process and more specifically, their online brand reputation.

Negative employee reviews are adding to the hiring struggle 

Job seekers being spoilt for choice in today’s climate means that they can afford to be picky when deciding which positions to apply for. As such, conducting an in-depth online search into a business prior to applying has become common practice.

The accessibility and popularity of platforms such as Glassdoor, Indeed and Seek means that with one quick search, job seekers are provided with a rare insight into the minds of a business’ previous employees. 

A significant 55 per cent of job seekers say that if they read a negative employee review while conducting this process, it would prevent them from applying entirely. That is, the presence of just one negative employee review can turn away over half of potential applicants.

A priority in the recruitment and hiring strategy.
A priority in the recruitment and hiring strategy.

Despite the significance of these statistics, only 34 per cent of HR managers say that unflattering ratings by employees on online review sites matter. In actual fact, the reality is that all HR and Employer Branding Managers should have to repair and improving their online brand image as a priority in their recruitment and hiring strategy. 

So, what can you do to improve your online business reputation? 

If your business’s ability to successfully recruit is currently being impacted by negative employee reviews, the following steps can be taken: 

Removal of negative reviews– In many instances, the negative reviews that have been posted by former employees are misleading, defamatory or entirely false and untrue. The prompt removal of these reviews is the most effective way to restore your company’s online image. 

Generation of positive reviews– Happy employees rarely take to the internet in comparison to unhappy, disgruntled employees. Actively encouraging this process can be of great benefit to your business’ reputation. 

Monitoring of review platforms– Too often negative employee reviews pile up and affect hiring processes without a business even noticing. It’s important that businesses are constantly monitoring and reviewing employee review platforms such as Glassdoor and Indeed so that efficient action can be taken. 

“In summary, not all hope is lost. While the worldwide skill-shortage caused by COVID-19 has been largely uncontrollable, businesses have the ability to manage their online reputation. With this, they can significantly improve their chances of hiring quality employees in these trying times.” Roisin Henden – People and Culture Manager at Removify.

Improve your online reputation and enhance your employer branding in 3 Steps - REMOVE - GENERATE - MONITOR
Improve your online reputation and enhance your employer branding in 3 Steps – REMOVE – GENERATE – MONITOR