106 Communications

6th Sense

The imperfect world of employee storytelling

March 2017 | Storytelling

Many of us have long held the belief that ‘if it’s too good to be true, it normally is’.

And now academics have proved it.

Northwestern University (in the US) analysed 111,460 product reviews and linked ratings to probability of purchasing. The likelihood to purchase did not peak with a perfect score but at 4.2 – 4.5 out of 5.

Significantly, reviews were more important, the more expensive the item.  So if something was relatively low-cost, we don’t worry so much about a rating of 3; but for expensive items, the ratings are important.

So what does this mean for employers and attracting great talent?

Choosing a job is undoubtedly, like buying a house or car, one of our more expensive decisions.  As such, reviews and peer recommendations are going to be more important than what restaurant we go to.

No organisation is perfect – so don’t give candidates some saccharin version of yourself, wrapped up as your employer brand.

Encourage employee stories – work with your people to help them curate stories and tell their experiences – good and bad.

Be responsive – engage with candidates, and get your colleagues to get involved in the dialogue.

We like the Booking story where they asked employees to document their year of travel in 2016.


It can be fun.  It can also be matter of fact.  But just don’t ever settle for boring or mundane or ‘no two days are the same’ – because you’ll just sound like everything else.

And we all know that this kind of perfection isn’t true.


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