Look, I get it. We live in a clickbait society designed to write a great title to any story and get everyone enraged about whatever the issue of the day is.
Politics. Masks. All issues on COVID. You can list all your other examples in this box - <insert here>. It's clickbait all the time, and few reporters take the time to present a balanced account of the issues at hand.
But I'm an HR leader by trade, and since the clickbait has firmly landed in the world of HR, now I'm mad.
What am I mad about? The uptick in articles on business sites citing issues in workforces at American companies. Full disclosure, if there are big issues at any company, that's on the company and people like us to get in front of and make better.
But reporters have lost their way in reporting on these issues. Case in point, this recent Bloomberg article about employees at Blizzard entertainment not making enough to eat.
Things this article didn't do that should be required in standard reporting on workforce issues:
--They didn't share any details to build credibility on source documents provided by a source (in this case, an internal salary spreadsheet created by one or more employees)
--They didn't share how many employees they talked to for the article. I've seen articles describing big problems at a company with as little as 6 employees cited. This one doesn't even say how many employees they talked to. The company in question (Blizzard) has 5,000 employees. Duh.
--They didn't use publicly discoverable information (Glassdoor, any salary site) to provide context related to what the limited number of employees they interviewed told them.
I could go on. If there are issues, HR is responsible for helping fix those issues and should be accountable if things aren't right.
But reporters should be accountable too. But, in today's world, too often they are not. They get three data points out of 5,000 available, don't do research, write a sexy headline and publish.
Reporters: Do Better. DO YOUR JOB.
This rant is why the latest episode of The HR Famous Podcast features me and Jessica Lee discussing the recent Bloomberg article that attempted a takedown vs Blizzard Entertainment related to pay issues - including some employees passing around a cloud spreadsheet listing salaries they make at Blizzard. Along the way, we discuss what quality reporting looks like around this type of issue, messaging as part of damage control when a company finds itself under scrutiny, and we also look for clues related to the depth of pay issues at Blizzard on the company's Glassdoor page.
Take a listen below!
Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player below) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!
1:30 - Tim is gone (again) this week on another vacay! KD and Jlee talk about what they think Tim is doing on his Lake Michigan getaway. Ginger people don’t tan!
12:00 - Next topic of the day - Blizzard Entertainment, famous for making many popular video games like Call of Duty, has a situation where employees circulated a salary document internally that showed major pay disparities. The salary document was first reported by Bloomberg - but the gang has questions.
15:00 - Jlee praises the person who circulated the Google sheets form for being efficient. If anyone has the link to the spreadsheet, HR Famous would love to see it! KD wonders aloud how many columns are on the spreadsheet? Are there names? The gang doubts it.
18:00 - An Activision spokesperson says that they compensate their employees fairly and gave their top performers a higher salary increase than in prior years. KD compares this issue to an episode of The Office where they have to decide who to give raises to and how.
21:00 - KD comments on the quote from the Activision spokesperson that says “a 20% increase on salaries compared to other years” was questionable language. KD and Jlee give high marks to this language that is a little clever to the untrained eye.
25:00 - KD points out that Blizzard has thousands of employees and not everyone could be consulted for this article. He's kind of over articles that splash, but make no mention of how many employees a reporter talked to.
26:00 - What do you think Blizzard’s Glassdoor rating is? KD is a little surprised by Blizzard’s rating and thinks that their rating isn’t indicative of some of the problems this article addresses.
29:00 - KD finds the reported Blizzard salaries on Glassdoor by job and finds that many aren’t too far off the industry average/ KD guesses the problems are in customer service and QA based on low hourly rates.
32:00 - Jlee feels for Blizzard and their HR department in these tough times for their company. KD wants reporters to tell a full story and do their job right. He encourages them to take their clickbait titles for traffic, then tell whole story.