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How to Respond to Negative Glassdoor Reviews...

You love to hate Glassdoor.  You feel like the negative reviews are disgruntled ex-employees who can hide behind not disclosing their identities. 

You're halfway right. There's still plenty of disgruntled takedowns of your company that are probably unfair.  But remember we are living in the review economy, with sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp and Amazon making the process of reviewing products and services feel commonplace to a higher percentage of your workforce.

The review economy means a greater total percentage of your employees are open to reviewing you on Glassdoor - which means you're going to be treated more fairly than you were during the dark days of Glassdoor Glassdoordisgruntlement 5-10 years ago.

You should ask good employees to write fair reviews as a result of the review economy. But that's a post for another day.

Today, I'm here to give you some simply templates to help you respond to Glassdoor reviews. Note that I'm not going to write them for you, but instead show you the elements of a solid response that doesn't attack the reviewer in question. The goal here is to give a playbook to respond to 4 types of reviews:

--The "You're the Best" review. (5 stars)

--The "You're Pretty Good" review. (4 stars)

--The "Balanced" review. (3 stars)

--The "Negative Takedown" review. (1-2 stars)

Ready? Let's do this.

1--The "You're the Best" review. (5 stars)

Believe it or not, you should take a victory lap and reply to this review.  The template goes something like this:

"Tim, thanks for taking the time to submit your thoughts on working at ACME.  While we have things to work on, we're glad you've sensed the <insert positive factor 1 identified by the employee> and <insert positive factor 2 identified by the employee> that we've worked hard to make part of our culture at ACME.  We appreciate everything you do for us and look forward to working hard to make ACME the best place possible to work and build a career."

Note the "we have things to work on" is key.  Humility is the right way to go with the stellar review. We're never satisfied!

2--The "You're Pretty Good" review. (4 stars)

Now we get into mixed feedback a bit.  Take the components of the 5-star review response and address any cons the employee lists in this still overwhelmingly positive review:

"Tim, thanks for taking the time to submit your thoughts on working at ACME.  While we have things to work on, we're glad you've sensed the <insert positive factor 1 identified by the employee> and <insert positive factor 2 identified by the employee> that we've worked hard to make part of our culture at ACME.  When it comes to <insert negative factor 1 identified by the employee>, we have some room to grow and are looking to <insert ongoing or planned initiative 1 to address the concern> and <insert ongoing or planned initiative 2 to address the concern>.  We look forward to hearing how you feel about the progress in this area, and thanks again for leaving this review."

Things are still pretty good in this review, but you're starting to address the negatives head on - with existing or planned initiatives in the area of concern.

3--The "Balanced" review. (3 stars)

Probably the most valuable of all reviews, the balanced review doesn't say you're the best - it says that there are pros and cons to working for you, which by the way, is the majority of workplaces that exist. Because the review doesn't imply that you're awesome, you have to back off taking too much credit and make sure you acknowledge the concerns.  It goes something like this:

"Tim, thanks for taking the time to leave this review.  We are working hard to build a good culture at ACME, and we're glad see the value in areas like <insert positive factor 1 identified by the employee> and <insert positive factor 2 identified by the employee>.  That's great feedback for us.  When it comes to <insert negative factor 1 identified by the employee>, we are working hard in this area and are looking to <insert ongoing or planned initiative 1 to address the concern> and <insert ongoing or planned initiative 2 to address the concern>.  We appreciate everything you do for us and thanks for being at ACME"

Note that you can repeat the insertion of areas of concerns and add additional initiatives you are working on to address concerns. A good rule of thumb is to address no more than two concerns, primarily the ones you have great traction on and active initiatives addressing the areas of concern.

4--The "Negative Takedown" review. (1-2 stars)

Here's where it gets dark.  The negative takedown review gives you credit for nothing, and provides a long list of problems and issues at your company. Allegations of hard working conditions, managers who don't care and general cultural dysfunction are common in the Negative Takedown review as well.  Most of these reviews will come from ex-employees, many of whom didn't perform well at your company.  With this in mind, the key is acknowledge the level of negativity in the review (even saying you're sorry they didn't have a good experience), then transitioning to promoting the fact your company isn't for everyone.  The response to the 1-star review using this model goes something like this:

"Tim, thank you for sharing your thoughts about your time at ACME. I'm sorry you didn't have a great experience during your time here, and it's true that working at ACME isn't for everyone. Change is constant in our business, and we ask our team members to be incredibly nimble as we serve customers in an industry that changes daily. Related to your comments on <insert negative factor 1 identified by the employee>, we are working hard in this area and are looking to <insert ongoing or planned initiative 1 to address the concern> and <insert ongoing or planned initiative 2 to address the concern>.  Thanks again for taking the time to leave this review and we wish you the best in your career."

Note the acknowledgment that the ex-employee did not have a great experience in the template above, including you sharing regrets if your brand will allow that - it's all about humility.  Once that's out of the way, you want to say that working at your company isn't for everyone, and the pace of change and related challenges is the best way to identify the profile of someone who can be successful at your company.  That effectively neutralizes the negative review to the extent you can by referring to motivational fit as a key to someone being successful at your company.  Once you have acknowledged the negative review and shared regrets the ex-employee didn't have a great experience at your company, you're on to show you're working on one or two of the areas that the review took you to task on.

The biggest problem HR faces when it comes to Glassdoor reviews is how to respond. If you're someone who hasn't got around to being consistent with your responses, I hope my templated approach helps you.

Naturally, context changes slightly related to whether the employee in question is a current or past employee. Also, you'll need to change up you intros and outros so every response doesn't sound the same, but insertion points for positive, negatives and what you're working on as a company to resolve generally will work as described with every review.

Get busy responding. Don't be a victim, HR.

Comments

Antonio Fiorentino

This is extremely valuable insight - thank you for posting this. As someone who actively manages our Glassdoor company page and responds to all reviews, it can be challenging to find the right balance in responding to reviews. Your advice has given me some additional tips and templates to leverage.

Matt

I once worked for a company that forced its employees to leave positive Glassdoor reviews. Considering the company was facing a 0% previous-year profit, a major restructuring, and an impending buyout... Massive layoffs were commonplace. Then, in their severance packages, the company threatened (in writing) to take back (by suing) any severance money paid if the former employee ever wrote anything negative on a public forum.

It's proven that disgruntled reviewers are FAR more likely to take the time to leave a negative review, than content reviewers are to leave a positive one, which is why there are far more negative reviews. Consequently, the "review ecomomy" we live in carries with it virtually no validity whatsoever. Incidentally, the only "purpose" it carries, is to serve the personal need of a vindictive reviewer to "vent".

Unless reviews are mandatory from everyone, and always kept anonymous... there is no possible way to get an accurate representation of the quality of a product/service/company, etc.

I don't trust, read, or contribute to any of them.

run 3

You're halfway right. There's still plenty of disgruntled takedowns of your company that are probably unfair. But remember we are living in the review economy, with sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp and Amazon making the process of reviewing products and services feel commonplace to a higher percentage of your workforce.

Jacki

I agree that replying to all Glassdoor posts is important. I like the way you worded the response for the negative responses. Those have always been the hardest response to craft. Interesting stuff.

Jack

I find this issue acceptable.

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