Even the best employers aren’t immune to bad reviews on Glassdoor, Indeed, Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms. After all, we’re talking about relationships which are prone to incompatibilities and misunderstandings, and which could improve through private dialogues as a first resort.
If your otherwise reputable company has received negative feedback online from current or former employees, it is your right and responsibility to protect your employer reputation. If you don’t, negative commentary posted by incensed current or former employees may attract attention and even go viral. Once this happens, not only will your company lose out on selective job candidates, but you will also set a precedent for future complaints – legitimate and illegitimate – taking place in public forums, rather than through internal channels.
Here are four things you can do to help prevent this and respond when it does occur:
- Create an employer brand protection policy, with legal guidance advising employees to address concerns about working conditions through supervisory and human resources channels. Indicate that using social media as a first resort is a counter-productive way to remedy legitimate concerns. While the right to affect change in working conditions is generally and legally protected free speech, the National Labor Relations Board and your attorney can advise on what is not protected free speech (which is generally when posters get personal, rant, or claim that they have been singled out unfairly, without evidence).
- Set up online alerts and ask employees to notify HR when they come across negative reviews. This will enable your company to be proactive and respond when necessary to commentary that may have a negative impact on your business.
- Contact the employee if you can identify them and ask for a meeting to address the concern through internal discussions and request that they take the post down. If it is a former employee, communicate that tarnishing the employer reputation hurts colleagues still with the company, and ask them to consider removing the post. You may also consider asking a colleague with a working relationship history with the person to contact them and ask them to remove the post.
- If step 3 fails, address the complaint online. Among Glassdoor job seekers, 69 percent say their perception of a company improves after seeing an employer respond to a negative review. This is an opportunity to showcase your company’s values to current and future employees as well as customers and investors. Begin by thanking the reviewer for the feedback, which shows that you care about working conditions and employment issues. Then honestly consider the complaint, acknowledge the main points, and explain what your company is doing or intends to do to rectify it. Consider using examples of how your company generally exemplifies the opposite of the condition or actions implied in the review. Finish by letting the reviewer and readers know that your company deals with issues through honest and professional dialogues. Remember to respond to each review individually, with well-considered answers rather than canned responses.
- Continue to elevate your employer brand by taking into account everything that you learn about your employee experiences online, through both positive and negative reviews. The strongest immunity you can build to negative commentary is through the genuine, unforced positive stories your employees have to tell about their experiences.
A well-intentioned, employee-responsive company will naturally create an atmosphere that is conducive to resolving issues through company channels, although exceptions will occur. Those exceptions can be valuable opportunities to uncover areas for improvement in working conditions and your company culture.
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