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How to Protect Your Brand in the Face of Online Employee Reviews

May 15th, 2019 | 3 min. read

By Mike Shaeffer

It used to be that you reviewed your employee’s performance. In today’s digitally connected culture, employees now get to review you. Current, potential, and former employees have countless platforms on which to share their good and bad experiences with your workplace.

Your potential hires are likely reading any number of employment sites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, or Career Bliss. And this doesn’t include anything they may see on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

Think no one considers negative reviews by your employees? Think again.

In a survey of 1,000 job seekers conducted by Redshift Research for Indeed, 83% of respondents said employer reviews influenced their decision on where to apply.

If you’re a hiring manager, the prospect of negative employee reviews may give you heartburn. But it doesn’t have to. This post is designed to help you rethink your perspective on negative feedback, as well as give you tools to help you respond and protect your brand.

Seven Tips for Managing Your Brand on Employment Sites

  1. Stay up-to-date. Someone in your organization should be regularly monitoring social media and employee sites so you can address any comments quickly. (And before they go viral if they’re defamatory.)  We recommend someone from your HR team be the point-of-contact, and that employees inside the organization who spot a negative review be encouraged to bring these to HR.
  2. Take a look in the mirror. It’s easy to get defensive when a current or former employee is complaining about the hours, management, or pay at your business. Take a minute to truly hear what the employee is saying. If multiple reviewers are complaining that management is inflexible or harsh it might be a truer reflection of your employees’ experience than you’re willing to admit. You can reply to a negative review, but if you don’t address legitimate frustrations with your organization the bad reviews will keep coming and your business will suffer. Consider how this information may help you be a better employer.
  3. Investigate and act on any specific allegations of sexual harassment or any form of discrimination based on protected class.
  4. Respond respectfully.  According to Glassdoor, “users have a more favorable impression of employers who take the time to respond to reviews on Glassdoor in a calm and thoughtful way.” Reply to both negative and positive reviews. For favorable reviews you want to acknowledge your appreciation for sharing their positive experience and how happy you are to have them on the team. Negative reviews are a trickier to respond to. Potential hires appreciate when an employer shows empathy for any valid concerns and a desire to do better. If it’s a current employee you may say, “We are interested in hearing more from you. Please schedule a meeting with your manager so we can address your concerns directly.” This puts the onus on the employee to voice their frustrations in a professional manner, rather than hiding behind a pseudonym on the internet. For former employees you can state that you hear their concern, however privacy laws prevent your discussing internal company matters in a public forum. Avoid the temptation to be caught in a back-and-forth online debate.
  5. Think twice. Before you respond to an unfavorable review, have another trusted leader in your organization read it for language and tone. Sometimes disgruntled employees will go to extremes to unfairly damage your reputation. If you feel your business has been slandered or libeled it’s best to seek legal counsel before responding. Employment sites typically have a page for employers that outline your recourse for negative feedback. However, they rarely take down critical reviews and typically err on protecting the anonymity of the reviewer.
  6. Create a culture of two-way communication. In our post, “A Better Way to do Performance Reviews,” we speak about the importance of giving employees an opportunity to provide feedback about their work experience. When you’re doing this right you shouldn’t be surprised by what you read online. If you give your employees a safe place to voice their frustrations to managers who can actually do something about it they’re less likely to lash out anonymously online.
  7. Accentuate the positive. If you have highly satisfied employees it’s okay to suggest they leave a review on an employment site as long as it’s clear it’s not an expectation nor tied to any incentive. Everyone benefits when your brand is strong.

In Your Corner

We work with managers like you everyday, helping you tackle your back-office burdens. We give you the tools to make tasks like onboarding easier and ensure your employees get paid the right amount, on-time, two things that make for happier employees. If you’d like to learn about our paperless payroll and HCM solutions let’s schedule a time to talk.