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How Do I Handle Negative Employee Reviews?

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Employer Branding, Talent Attraction

how to handle negative employee reviews

When did you last look over your employee reviews online? Even if you ignore them, know that potential and current employees are reading them. Reviews and ratings are a go-to research tool for potential employees — 86% of job seekers use them to decide where to apply. If these potential candidates see that you don't respond to online reviews, they may think that you don't value your employee's opinions and they'll take their job search to a company that does. 

Poor online reviews present an opportunity to solidify your brand. When you are open, authentic and apologetic, if necessary, you can turn the situation around and show potential candidates that you care about employee working conditions and value their feedback. You can use this feedback to shape your brand image and attract candidates matching your company culture. 

How Negative Reviews Impact Employer Branding

We live in an age where reviews matter. People want to know how others perceive a brand or business, whether for online shopping or a job search. Potential candidates use career sites and job board platforms to research the company culture, salaries and the general work environment. 

Employee reviews have a significant impact on your company. After all, these people have seen your business's innermost workings. Controlling what former employees say about your company can be challenging. While some ratings may seem unfair, eight out of 10 people have no regrets about the review they leave. 

A negative review can impact people's perception of your brand, alter your company's image, break trust and credibility with potential employees and affect your bottom line. While a single bad review might not have an impact, it's when potential employees start to see a trend in negative reviews that may sway their decision about working for your company. Talent that is sensitive about establishing a solid career reputation will stay away from companies with poor reputations. You may even lose good candidates due to their negative perceptions about working for your company.  

People want to hear from employees who experience day-to-day life in the company and see whether that matches your brand message. Employee reviews are so powerful that when talking about working conditions, they are considered three times more credible than the CEO's voice. 

All companies receive poor reviews at some point. Though unfavourable reviews can sour your branding and recruitment efforts, you can use them to your advantage. Sometimes the posed challenges are just what you need to transform your working environment to attract the best talent. 

How to React and Respond to Negative Reviews From Employees

Negative feedback is hard for anyone to hear, especially when it seems unfair. For example, if a disgruntled employee leaves an unfair critique online, responding with a few colourful words may be tempting — however, a reaction like this could land you in hot water. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) takes retaliation so seriously that it sued an educational technology company for retaliating against an employee who left a negative review on Glassdoor. With careful consideration and strategy, you can respond appropriately. Consider the following do's and don'ts for handling negative online reviews from employees:

1. Do Respond Quickly

respond to employee reviews quickly

Respond to negative reviews from employees in a timely fashion. Even if you think an unfair review doesn't dignify a response. It's not how others see it. Potential employees will feel that you are unable to refute the claims. It may even look like employee concerns are a low priority. A prompt and thorough response will positively impact the perception of your company and show that you care. 

2. Do Investigate 

If the review brings up complaints about specific issues of discrimination or harassment, you will need to investigate these claims. Establish an investigation process and decide what information you can share in your response online. 

3. Do Monitor Reviews

Ideally, a member of your HR team should watch for postings on career sites. Paying attention to postings can help you to step up your recruitment process. You'll see how you fare with your competitors and get insight into what changes you can make to attract great candidates. 

4. Don't Ignore Reviews

Ignoring reviews is a bad idea. Ultimately, you're handing over control of your brand perception to reviewers. Rather than ignoring negative feedback, see it as input to make your workplace more desirable for employees. 

5. Don't Get Emotional

Always stay respectful and professional in your response. Whether the review is fair or not, how you react reflects on you and how you treat employees who give feedback. 

6. Don't Confront 

Remember, the EEOC takes retaliation and intimidation of employees very seriously. An irrational response can land your company in legal hot water and other employees may perceive your overreaction as a sign of guilt. 

Combating Negative Employee Reviews and Using Them to Your Advantage

Once you've answered the review, the conversation needs to continue. In your response, suggest that the employee contact a specific department to resolve the problem. Be proactive about fixing issues. 

Take the time to read and consider employee feedback to gain insight into your company culture. Reviews can be a gold mine for discovering what changes you can make to create a more positive and welcoming culture and environment. When you respond appropriately and take action to make the issues right, it can build morale with current employees showing that you care about their needs and respect their feedback. 

Negative reviews can paint a better picture of employee expectations. You're looking for suitable candidates for the role, so if someone complains online about working weekends, you can use this insight to narrow your search and focus on potential employees who are happy to work weekends. These reviews also show you what your employees need. If learning and growth opportunities are a common complaint, it may be time to introduce a learning program to help you retain talent. 

When employees post feedback, it encourages others to share their experiences. It may result in an influx of complaints but it can start a debate with other employees defending your company. Negative feedback can be a great conversation starter between you and your employees. Internally, you can use the feedback to address concerns and speak with employees about how to turn situations around. 

Harness Your Negative Employee Reviews

harness your negative employee reviews with ph creative

Negative reviews from employees don't have to spook you. They are the backbone of your company and naturally, they will have something to say about how you treat them. You can turn negative feedback around and use it to create a better working environment. Embrace your employee's feedback, make them feel heard and you'll be able to attract and retain great employees who feel valued and heard. 

Ph.Creative is an industry-leading employer brand consulting company, working with organizations to combat negative employer reviews, foster a strong employer brand, and boost employee engagement. Let's talk— contact us to learn more or sign up for an upcoming employer branding sprint course to further your career and knowledge!

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