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How Small Businesses Should Respond to Negative Glassdoor Reviews

How Small Businesses Should Respond to Negative Glassdoor Reviews
Credit: Phoenixns/Shutterstock

Glassdoor has emerged as a great place to learn about a company before taking a new job, helped all the more by the public's ability to leave anonymous reviews and offer star ratings based on employees' and past employees' experiences in the company. 

For a business owner, it might be tempting to dismiss or ignore negative comments about their company on popular business review sites like Glassdoor, but that strategy may do your business more harm than good. According to the 2018 Job Seeker Nation Survey, 22 percent of job seekers preemptively rejected an employer due to negative Glassdoor reviews.

No one likes being on the receiving end of a bad evaluation, especially in a public forum. It can be hard to process feedback that evaluates your personal job performance without feeling defensive, and that task can become even more difficult when the criticism is directed at your company anonymously. However, since negative reviews do impact a business's ability to recruit qualified candidates – which in turn impacts its long-term success – it is best to respond rather than ignore them.

Rachel Bitte, chief people officer at Jobvite, recommends treating Glassdoor like "a key component of your overall brand strategy that should not be overlooked by your recruiting or marketing teams." Her organization has 105 reviews on Glassdoor and 4.1 out of 5 stars for its overall employee reviewer rating.

Of course, how you respond matters. Bitte advises that businesses "respond to all complaints, big and small, in a timely manner. Be courteous, and thank reviewers for their feedback, and if possible, continue the conversation in private to correct the issues." This goes for pretty much any negative reviews you find on other review sites such as Yelp and Vault. [Interested in online reputation management services? Check out our best picks.]

Bitte also recommends adopting a more proactive approach, "to stem Glassdoor complaints before they start. Make sure your company offers alternative channels for criticism. If employees feel that they can voice their grievances and be heard internally, they're less likely to take their criticisms online."

Kent Lewis, president and founder of digital marketing firm Anvil Media, recommends taking this offensive approach to addressing negative reviews one step further. His company has 25 reviews on Glassdoor, with an overall employee reviewer rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. Lewis says not to be passive when it comes to your business's reputation. "Improve your average star rating with positive employee reviews. Low star ratings hurt a company's ability to recruit employees, so ensure you keep your average star review above 3.5." 

Since both former and current employees can leave reviews on Glassdoor, encouraging workers to share their experiences on the site can help offer a more accurate perception of your business to future candidates. Lewis does caution "not to incentivize employee reviews, however. It should happen organically and over time."

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Timing is also very important when addressing negative reviews on sites like Glassdoor. According to Perry Petrozelli, head of product at company culture management tech firm Aventr, businesses need to "manage feedback quickly and often." His company has four reviews on Glassdoor and 5 out of 5 stars in employee ratings.  

Petrozelli cautions that negative reviews impact more than an organization's ability to hire quality people, although "these reviews clearly impact recruitment and retention. I've also seen clients walk away from contracts with companies that are perceived to be mistreating employees based on Glassdoor reviews." So, it is best not to leave negative reviews out in the world without addressing them for too long.

Glassdoor also believes that addressing negative reviews head-on is the best strategy for a company to protect its reputation in the marketplace. According to its own internal 2016 U.S. Site Study, "69 percent of employees are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand." So, organizations that respond to reviews and share updates on their culture and work environment are likely to be do better in a competitive hiring environment overall.

Using these methods to address negative reviews should give your company a leg up in hiring and retaining employees and showing potential clients that you value your corporate culture.

To respond to a Glassdoor review, you must have a free employer account or an enhanced company profile. You can use these accounts to offer an official response to any company, interview or benefit review posted to your company profile.

There are two places to reply. To reply to the company profile, you sign in to your account and go to your public profile by clicking your company's name. Find the review in question. Below that is a box that says "Write a response" where you can type. Then click Add Comment. It will list your title with your response, and the original commenter will get an email notification of your response.

To reply in the Employer Center, you also sign in to your account. Click Review Management on the left, and then click either Employee Reviews or Interview Reviews. Find the review in question, and fill in the field that says "Write a response." Then click Add Comment. Similarly, the poster will get a notification.

Glassdoor moderates employer responses, using the company's community guidelines and terms of use. Employers are allowed to include contact information and links in their responses. They ask that employers be professional, do not include the name of the person you suspect of having written the negative review, and do not threaten punitive damages. If you break its rules, your response will be deleted.

The company also moderates the reviews themselves. Users can write one review per year per company on the person's profile. Fraudulent reviews are removed. If you suspect a review is a fake, you can report it.

Charell Star

Charell Star is a digital journalist based in New York City and primarily covers tech, style, beauty, and culture. When she's not writing stories, you can find her filming and producing lifestyle segments for local TV and online media outlets.