Everyone's done it. Before you take that job, you check external sites like Glassdoor or LinkedIn to see what people say about the company you're about to join.

The question is: can you trust those reviews?

According to new research by Workplace Dynamics, an employee engagement platform and Kununu, a Boston-based "workplace insights" company, you can. And it's possible that those nasty reviews aren't just disgruntled former employees after all.

In fact, according to the company, there's just a .67 average difference in scoring on a five-point scale between internal company culture reports and external corporate reviews. In other words, if the company scores 4.1 on company culture internally, it'll score somewhere from a low three to a high four externally.

That's important news for job seekers who don't have internal contacts in a new company that they can trust to give them the full scoop.

Reputation matters, the report says, citing 2015 Talent Board Experience research. 76% of us, apparently, research a company before accepting a job offer. And 84% of us would leave our current companies if a firm with a top-notch reputation offered us a job.

One thing to be aware of: the external skew tends to be negative.

That makes sense: people who have left a company would tend to be more down on the firm than those who are left there. But the fact that the skew is relatively small -- and relatively consistent -- means that job seekers should be able to rely on external reviews.

Kununu studied 192 companies, checking 25 statements on internal company surveys and comparing them to 18 rating factors on its own system. The 25 statements, things like "I feel appreciated" and "my pay is fair" correlated well with the external reviews, the company says.

For example, the data on compensation and benefits that indicate whether pay is fair at a company or not are tightly correlated. Internal people clearly rate their companies well. But the data indicates that former employees largely agree, if to a somewhat smaller extent.

One additional interesting finding:

Companies with the best benefits do not always have the highest employee engagement. In fact, quite the opposite. "Benefits influence the likelihood somebody will recommend a place to work, but have much less influence on motivation or likelihood to stay," the report says.

Published on: Sep 30, 2017