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Handling Online Employer Reviews: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

April 6, 2017

It happens. You perform a Google search for your organization and come across a poor online review by a former employee. Regardless of whether such public feedback is accurate, the issue of employer reviews has been growing more prominent for a number of years. Employer review sites like Glassdoor and Vault that allow current and former employees to criticize or praise a company through anonymous postings have become increasingly popular, with as many as 33 million Glassdoor users and more than 600,000 companies reviewed.

A recently published study by the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria found that companies with positive online employee reviews hold a significant recruiting advantage with jobseekers compared to companies with neutral or negative reviews. The study confirmed that workers view online reviews by employees on Glassdoor as a reliable source of information. The study also found that employees assigned greater importance to online reviews than recognition awards for best HR management practices.

Strategies to consider

So what can HR professionals do to minimize the effects of negative reviews and help nurture a positive employer brand? While there’s no single best practice, here are some techniques to consider:

  • Track online review sites to create an aggregate database that can be used to develop a strategy to address criticism and highlight praise. Glassdoor also provides a premium employer subscription that allows employers to extract data from the website. While some of the reviews may be from disgruntled poorly performing employees, you may find value in being able to comb through reviews to find honest feedback that wouldn’t be obtainable through an HR-run employee engagement survey.
  • Invite current employees to participate in online employer reviews. Encouraging feedback from all employees ensures that you present the most honest and diverse feedback from your organization. Glassdoor recommends that companies encourage new hires and especially managers to leave reviews because they can provide an enthusiastic and realistic overview of the organization. Additionally, the site suggests that employers focus on third-party recognition. When you win an award, celebrate the success of your company, and encourage employees to leave reviews reflecting why your company was worthy of the honor.
  • Designate an HR or marketing team member to respond to online criticism and online praise in a way that shows the organization is committed to growing and developing. However, if you use this technique, proceed with caution because it can be misconstrued as insincere.
  • Create an outlet for employees to express concerns internally through a suggestion box or another confidential forum so they can get their issues addressed before they post negative reviews on a public site.

Nurture your brand

It’s important to remember that you don’t create your employer brand—you nurture it. HR professionals play a vital role as employee ambassadors on the front lines of the recruiting and onboarding processes. Addressing online reviews in the recruiting process can help your organization maintain a positive external presence and will help you attract the best candidates for your open positions.