Accenture Caught Manipulating Employee Reviews
In June 2012 we saw some signs that Accenture might have started to tell its employees to write positive employee reviews on online career sites.
Manipulating reviews online is a big deal. Huge even. Why? Because Accenture is having problems with employee satisfaction and employee turn-over and needs to recruit massive amounts of employees each year. And tricking someone into a bad job, can ruin that person’s career.
If current and former employees started saying what they really think about Accenture in reviews, the firm will face difficulties in recruiting.
You see, at Accenture people usually start out enthusiastically but after about 6 months or so start realizing that a career at Accenture is not very attractive. Most people still stay around two years, while a small minority, who have an aggressive enough personality, stay at Accenture for the long term.
We Got Suspicious in June 2012
We noticed a sudden increase in the amounts of online reviews around June of 2012.
My immediate thought was that Accenture’s HR department had been “encouraging” its employees to write positive reviews online.
In addition, many of the reviews were strangely positive. The titles were “Great Place to Work” and variations of that. “Amazing place to work.” “Awesome place to work.”
We Found Some Disturbing Data
Looking at reviews per day during Jan-Sept 2012 gives us a clear picture:
Source: Analysis by ExposingEvilEmpire.com, reviews by current and former Accenture employees on Glassdoor.com (N=1424)
As you can see, there’s indeed a clear peak in number of reviews during June.
The Culture at Accenture Helps Explain the Peak
By my own experience I know how Senior Executives “encourage” you to give positive answers to the Accenture’s annual Engagement Survey. My Career Counselor would email me telling me to take the survey. And remind me if I hadn’t answered the survey within a few days. I found it interesting how they know if I had answered or not, considering it was supposed to be anonymous (and I’m not alone in discovering this.)
The same goes for the “Leadership” evaluations. If you have worked at Accenture for more than a year, you might have noticed how these evaluation request only come from SE’s who you have a good relationship with.
It was not only the increased number of reviews that made me suspicious. I was also surprised to see how many of the reviews were positive.
So I decided to investigate and analyzed more than 1400 reviews from Glassdoor.com. Indeed the reviews during the unnatural "peak" in June are mainly positive reviews:
Curiously, many of the reviews mentioned the exact phrase “Great Place to Work” or variations thereof, such as "awesome place to work" in the reviews.
Could it be that the HR personnel sent out emails ordering employees to say that Accenture is a great place to work, and some of these employees failed to rephrase it in their own words (being colored by the wording of the HR people)?
I can’t really tell by looking at the data; about 16% of the reviews during the peak mention the phrase "great place to work" or something very similar, but it was common already before the peak (12%).
Looking into the reviews, I found out the following:
- The amount of negative reviews didn’t change much (marked in red in the graph above), but the positive ones are up from an average of 73 reviews per month to 342 reviews in June.
- During the peak in June, 75% of reviews were positive, which can be compared to 50% during January to May. 94% were either positive or neutral (grade 3/5 or above) during the June peak.
Finding The Source of These Overly Positive Reviews
I was also able to figure out who was doing all these positive reviews:
Of the 362 total reviews in June, at least 211 came from India. That is 58% of all reviews. Granted, India is an important country for Accenture, but normally there are only about 18 reviews per month (average Jan to May) from employees of Accenture India.
Most of the reviews were posted by current employees in the lower levels of the company.
This makes sense; if HR is going to pressure someone to write a good review, they will target employees who are either so new that they are still positive or at a low level and thus have little choice but to comply.
The Great Place To Work Ranking
In 2011 Accenture held position 99 of 100 on the US Great Place to Work ranking with a slightly better result in 2012. In India Accenture held the last position (25 out of 25) on the ranking in 2012.
Accenture has gone from a traditional consulting firm (20 years ago) to a firm focusing on system integration and outsourcing. The quality of the experience for employees has gone down dramatically.
So how have Accenture sustained its brand and stayed on the ranking? Because they have an army of employees willing to say it’s great to maintain the brand value of their own CVs (and to boost their own egos).
Judging from the data the HR department in Accenture India decided to ask its lower level employees to go online and write positive reviews to make Accenture appear to be a Great Place to Work.
Perhaps these efforts have something to do with the fact that data collection for The Great Place to Work ranking for India was about to start. According to the ranking institute, the study was launched on June 1, 2012. Almost exactly when the peak in reviews started.
What a coincidence.
It is also interesting to know that the GPTW ranking is determined by data equally easy to manipulate; questionnaires to employees (selected by the company being evaluated).
If you work at Accenture in India and have been told to post reviews please email us (feel free to attach any emails from HR) or comment below.
According to our analysis, some of the most common complaints by Accenture employees are: low compensation, poor work-life balance, incompetent managers, uninteresting tasks and projects, and lack of professional development.
On top of that the firm manipulates online reviews to lure candidates into accepting an Accenture job.
That’s indeed a Great Place to Work.