How to respond to negative employer reviews on Glassdoor.
If you’re an employer, it’s inevitable that you’re going to receive a scathing, brutal, awful, horrible, scary review on Glassdoor at some point.
It happens to every organization, warranted or not.
Sure, I question the validity of many scathing reviews (as well as the over-the-top 5/5 reviews) as much as you, but know that once the review is posted, it’s posted for good… as long as the review meets Glassdoor’s terms of service (or the author removes it themselves). If you haven’t read Glassdoor’s terms of service, you absolutely should. That doc has saved my hide on multiple occasions, and in my experience, the team at Glassdoor are stand up people.
Since you’re still reading this article, I’m going to take a stab in the dark that someone has drug your company through the mud, and blasted your organization online.
Although it may not seem obvious, this is actually an opportunity for you, and how you react will play a major role in determining the impact of the review to your reputation as an employer.
Here’s a simple four step process that I recommend to our clients when they find themselves in this situation, and I’d welcome you to consider them for yourself as well.
Step 1: Take a deep breath.
Just like no sane person actually likes going to the dentist, no one likes to receive painful feedback – that may or may not be valid - from anonymous sources in an open forum for all to see.
Although your instinctual reaction may be to call Glassdoor and demand that they remove the review, know that they won’t do that.
When you see the review for the first time, do yourself a favour and take a deep breath before clicking through to read the review in its entirety as that will allow you to…
Step 2: Read the review objectively and seek nuggets of truth.
Know that whomever left the review, left it for their reasons, not yours.
It’s very possible they had nefarious intentions in mind, but it’s also possible that the author cares enough about your organization to share their distaste in a safe format – and that’s a good thing.
The manager / employee relationship can be a complex animal, and it’s very possible that the scathing review highlights potentially hidden information about the inner workings of your culture that should be explored.
It's also possible, however, that the review is full of total nonsense.
Step 3: Resist the urge to blast the anonymous reviewer.
As much as you may want to blast the reviewer online and call out all of the untruths they shared, know that as soon as you respond to the review, the person that left it will receive a notification from Glassdoor – with a link to your response. If you blast the reviewer, guess how they may respond to your response?
With another scathing review.
I’ve seen plenty of organizations take the “eye for an eye” approach to responding to negative reviews, and more often than not, by doing so they rack up additional negative reviews in a short time frame, causing a cyclical public relations sh*t storm that was entirely avoidable.
What I find to be a better strategy is…
Step 4: Calmly acknowledge the review and provide an alternative medium for a deeper discussion.
Your job here is to be the wet blanket that all small, smouldering fires fear.
Have an identified party at your organization respond to the review, concisely acknowledge the reviewing party’s feedback in a neutral tone, and provide an opportunity for the reviewer to continue the conversation offline.
Here’s an example:
“Thank you for your feedback. I’d like to learn more about your perspective. Feel free to contact me directly at __________.”
In all of my years of responding to reviews on Glassdoor, I’ve only had 3 people take me up on the offer, and as it turns out, their feedback was absolutely valid and inspired change for the better.
Regardless of whether or not the person that left the review chooses to out themselves and continue the conversation, the most important thing for you as a Recruiter, HR pro, or leader of an SMB to takeaway here, is that acknowledging negative feedback is ALWAYS better than ignoring it and hoping it will go away.
By responding, you are showing your audience that you are paying attention, and that’s the best thing you can do.
When Glassdoor first came out, I like many of you likely thought it was nothing more than a digital water cooler where disgruntled employees could hang out and talk trash about their (former) organization.
Over the years, however, I have come to believe that Glassdoor is a remarkably valuable tool in the recruiting toolbox for all organizations - large and small – specifically as it relates to building trust with job seekers before they apply, before they interview, or before they accept an offer of employment.
If you don’t believe me, ask your last 5 hires if they checked your organization out on Glassdoor before their first day.
I’m willing to wager your next dentist bill that at least 3 of them say yes*.
*OK, that last statement isn’t true, but I’m willing to wager you a digital high-five instead. :)