When job seekers want an inside look at company culture and employee experience, the first place they turn is often the anonymous business review website Glassdoor. In fact, according to Glassdoor, 86% of candidates research company reviews and ratings before they apply to an open role. That’s because online reviews give job applicants an authentic and transparent view into what working at a company is really like, beyond the curated testimonials found on an organization’s careers website.
For companies, Glassdoor can be a fantastic resource to showcase their employer brand and establish a good reputation with prospective talent. On the other hand, too many negative reviews and poor ratings can cast a company in a bad light, and even scare off qualified job applicants.
While negative reviews are bound to pop up from time to time, they don’t have to be a reason to panic. Instead, view them as an opportunity to showcase all the positive things your organization is doing to ensure your employees have long, successful, and fulfilling careers there.
Here’s how to handle bad Glassdoor reviews with a mix of professionalism and poise, while making the best out of them.
Establish a Process
First, sit down with your team and come up with an action plan for how you will reply to Glassdoor reviews, both negative and positive. That way you’re all aligned on who will be responsible for monitoring and replying to reviews, and what approach your company will take moving forward. Knowing who to turn to when bad reviews pop up is key so reviews don’t fall through the cracks, and your team isn’t left scrambling at the last minute to come up with a response.
When it comes to designating an individual or team to lead your Glassdoor strategy, you have a few options depending on the size of your company and the volume of your online reviews. Many small companies choose an individual from their HR, recruiting, or social media teams to oversee their Glassdoor account. Larger companies, however, might want to develop a task force or small committee to keep up with a higher quantity of employee and candidate reviews, as well make sure that your business’s Glassdoor page is updated with the latest job postings, company news, and employer branding content. Some organizations even have their CEOs reply directly to particularly negative reviews to show how seriously their company takes employee feedback into consideration.
Once you’ve decided who’s in charge of tracking and replying to negative Glassdoor reviews, the next step is to decide how you’ll handle the content of your company’s responses. From maintaining a professional tone to replying in a timely manner, here are four things you’ll want to keep in mind as you craft your responses.
1. Say ‘thank you.’
Whether you love Glassdoor or hate it, you have to acknowledge its ability to provide you with candid feedback from both current and prospective employees. Regardless of whether you’re answering a positive review or a negative one, start your response by thanking the user for taking the time to write their review and share their feedback.
“First and foremost, thank the individual who left the review for sharing their experience,” said Dana Case, Director of Operations at MyCorporation.com, a company that helps business owners with online document filing. “I would recommend apologizing for the experience they had during their time of employment, as this bit of transparency does matter to the individual who left the review.”
Feedback is what helps us all get better, and leading with a “thank you” not only shows your commitment to improvement, but it also helps set the tone for the rest of your reply.
2. Maintain a professional tone.
If a reviewer makes malicious allegations or labels your company as a “terrible place to work,” it can be tempting to defend your company and your HR team’s efforts, but you need to remember how your comment could come off to prospective job applicants. An overly aggressive or defensive comeback could be interpreted as an admission of guilt or, at the very least, might come off as unprofessional.
Before replying, take a moment to collect your emotions and cool down, advised Jagoda Wieczorek, HR Manager at ResumeLab, an online site that helps job candidates perfect their resumes and cover letters. “Often the review will be scathing, emotionally charged, and angry. Rise above and do not take any words to heart,” stressed Wieczorek. “Remaining rational and objective is key here, as potential applicants will closely watch how you handle this stress test.”
Reread your rebuttal out loud or have someone else proofread it to ensure it doesn’t come off as overly emotional or accusatory. The goal here is that a third party, like a prospective applicant who stumbles upon this review, will interpret your response as empathetic, organized, and professional. Keep that perspective top-of-mind as your draft and edit your response.
3. Address the reviewer’s concerns directly.
Next, you’ll want to address the meat of the review. Be sure to specifically address each part of the reviewer’s feedback, and take the time to mention any new or upcoming initiatives or projects your organization currently has in place or will be rolling out in the near future to remedy this situation. This is the part of the review that allows you to highlight how your team is working to improve the employee experience at your company and, ultimately, turn negative feedback into a branding win for your business.
“Think of your audience when responding to a negative review,” said Jessica Lim, HR Manager at resume and cover letter writing service provider MyPerfectResume. “You need to focus both on the person who wrote the review and on those who might read it. My team’s goal is to address the reviewer’s issue head-on to help them, as well as to let potential employees know that we take such complaints seriously.”
Addressing the reviewer’s complaint directly, as Lim suggested, can include encouraging the individual to bring up their issue to their manager or HR business partner to find an appropriate solution.
For example, if a current employee’s review complains that your organization has no opportunity for career growth, you can thank them for their feedback and share your business’s commitment to internal growth. Then, share details about your current initiatives. You could say you have robust internal career paths that specifically outline what skills and competencies employees need to be promoted, or even cite what percentage of your workforce received a promotion in the last six months. Lastly, tell the reviewer that you appreciate this feedback and share any future initiatives your team has planned in this area, like developing career lattices or an internal mentorship program.
Just remember to watch your tone. You want to be respectful of their feedback, validate their experience, and show that you are actively listening. You don’t want to come off as defensive or dismissive of their experience.
4. Reply quickly.
It’s crucial to show your current and prospective employees that you genuinely care about their feedback and want everyone to have a good experience interviewing at and working for your company. One way to convey that dedication is by replying to reviews quickly.
“My advice is to respond right away to show that you care and that this person's opinion is important to the company,” Lim said. “Negative reviews left unanswered or answered late can hurt your company's image.” A swift reply also allows your organization to show your commitment to taking quick, deliberate action to improve both your workplace and your recruiting process.
As much as it might feel like it, one or two bad reviews isn’t the end of the world. Glassdoor estimates that 65% of its users read at least five reviews before forming an opinion of a company. So one disgruntled employee’s story won’t be enough to scare away potential candidates, as long as you have an assortment of other reviews that are more positive.
That said, it’s important to have new ratings posted regularly so your page remains up-to-date. Therefore, routinely reach out to your employees and encourage them to review your company on Glassdoor. This can help you collect genuine feedback and improve your business’s ranking.
You can even tie these reminders to important employee milestones, like a new hire’s 90th day on the job, an employee’s work anniversary, or a team member’s new promotion. Another option is to add a plug at the end of your employee engagement surveys.
But there’s no need to obsess over getting more reviews. Spend the majority of your efforts listening to employee and candidate feedback to perfect your employee experience. After all, that’s what impacts your reviews the most and keeps your employees engaged and happy.