By Clare Mullen

Glassdoor Reviews

Why they matter and why you are fooling no-one with a fake one.

A lifetime ago I was a holiday rep in "Brit abroad" typical destinations. Yes, I saw a lot, no I am not going to share that, and yes...I am glad there was no such thing as a smartphone back then! Generally speaking, I rep'd the god-awful hotels often featured on shows like, "Holidays from Hell" and more often than not I would have a queue of people looking to complain about their room having paid £99 for a self-catering week in Benidorm. At the end of their stay, I was obliged to give them a Customer Service Questionnaire. I say obliged, but I invariably either didn't give them one or I completed it myself!

This was before Trip Advisor ever existed when consumer programmes on TV were getting going and before anyone had the flexibility in travel we have now. The customer ratings on your travel brochure were...if I'm being perfectly honest.....made up!

The advent of consumer programmes including Holidays from Hell brought about the blame and claim culture. From there Trip Advisor allowed consumers to make detailed considerations about where they would be spending their summer, and which brand would get their hard earned money. Had a bad holiday, chances are you were stepping off that flight with your dodgy tan and sombrero and heading home to write a scathing review.

Nowadays we are reviewing everything - amazon orders, holidays, like clicks on Facebook and Netflix, retweets, re-grams. You name it! It should come as no surprise then that employee's and candidates alike are flocking to Glassdoor to tell you about their experiences of a business. From internal issues to interview processes and salary bandings, all of this information is helping future employee's make decisions about your brand. The wheels have turned and you are being interviewed as much as being the interviewer. When Trip Advisor started to gain attention we all said, of course, you will write a review if you have had a bad time but no-one writes a review if they have had a great time. And so it seems reasonable to say the same for a disgruntled employee. Not everyone leaves on a positive note, and sometimes anger flares and keyboards light up!

But the employee review, whether disgruntled or not, won't have been their first time at raising their concerns. It will have been spoken about in teams, in 121's, in engagement survey's and on exit interviews. Unless you have had your head in the sand, that employee will have made their feelings known in some way before even hitting send on Glassdoor. And where there is 1, there is often several more. I once met a founder who had this issue, pages and pages of bad reviews. His stance, "its all BS, who cares". Well, every future employee does. And as your roles sit unfilled, the answer is staring you in the face. Ignore them at your peril.

It's hard to be a stand out business when it comes to candidate attraction. I have seen this in the tech scene where we are all trying to be "disruptive". Everyone offers flat structures, team beers, ping pong and an "in touch" founder. Our sales pitches echo each others and so candidates need to get their information from another source....the Glassdoor review.

So what do you do with a negative review?

Well, what you don't do is ask your team to all write positive reviews on the promise of beers or baked goods. You don't reply to the reviews with snarky remarks, and you DO NOT ignore them.

Fake reviews are plain to see, no-one believes them and it is not making the bad reviews disappear. They are cheesy a best and anyone reading isn't going to think your business is built on radical honesty or psychological safety. You are simply making the business look naff, and you as the HR person look out of touch. A better approach is to acknowledge the reviews and the issues raised and look for ways to internally improve. If a current employee leaves a bad review and then see's you actioning concerns, they are more likely to go back and update their review.

Snarky responses do not fair any better, you come across childish, defensive and bitter. It only serves to make the review seem more on point. Instead, leave a comment noting their frustrations and that if they are a current or former employee you would welcome a chance to sit down face to face and discuss it in more detail.

Finally, you do not ignore them. Where there is built up frustrations, it is down to you to address these internally with the team, admit your mistakes and ask for help in making your business a better place to work. Welcome regular feedback (anonymous or not), use the team to set the tone of your culture by establishing a culture committee to work with you in addressing feedback. And, create a business built on radical honesty where it doesn't even cross someone's mind to take it to the streets.

As for candidate feedback, be thankful and humble. Ask your candidates to review you. I consistently do this, explaining it is always a work in progress and that we need that feedback to develop a better interview experience. The best reviews will always be from the candidates you reject who still fly your flag and from the leavers that still have your back. Radical honesty isn't that radical, you just need to be open to it.

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