By Gaik Ping Ooi, Director of Employee Communications and Engagement and Isabella Sturgis, Graduate Intern
As is the case with any online review, employer reviews are often difficult to interpret. On one hand, they offer job seekers an unfiltered view on what it’s like to work at a company, from those who know it best. On the other hand, some reviewers’ depictions aren’t entirely representative – oftentimes, only those who have had a very negative experience are compelled to write a review. In either case, when 75% of candidates research a company’s reputation before even applying and one-third of prospects have rejected offers due to negative reviews, these platforms’ scores and ratings certainly affect your company’s ability to attract quality talent.
So, how seriously should organizations consider reviews on sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed and Comparably as part of their employer brand strategy? It’s a question clients ask often, and it’s one that’s better suited to a proactive approach than a reactive one.
Assessing Employee Reviews
A positive overall rating on these sites can be a great recruitment tool. In addition to what candidates learn from your website or an interview, these reviews can resonate on a more authentic and intimate level because of their first-person employee perspectives.
However, there tends to be a negative and potentially inaccurate skew in those who take the time to write reviews. According to a study by Fractl, a majority of reviewers give one or two stars out of five, and those who left the worst reviews were employed at the company for less than a year. Concerningly, about 10% of reviewers even admitted to lying or stretching the truth because they feel they were hurt or unjustly treated.
While these reviews should be taken with a grain of salt and supplemented with other sources of feedback, this is not to say that organizations should write off all negative reviews as lies from a disgruntled minority – job seekers certainly don’t take that approach. These reviews offer a useful look inside your company and can help keep a pulse on employee sentiment to better inform your talent management and recruitment strategy.
Tips for Managing Your Employer Brand on Job Sites
To respond or not to respond – that is the question negative reviews often trigger for company communicators, HR reps and leaders. While it’s easy to panic and jump to make a swift response, we recommend a more holistic approach to proactively managing your company’s reputation on these online career websites.
- Conduct an honest audit of the reviews and compare with internal surveys and sentiment. Get a more accurate internal assessment of employee sentiment to understand your strengths and where the gaps may be. Monitor for trends over time – is there an uptick in complaints about the same issue? If so, it may warrant further investigation and updates to employee surveys.
- Revisit your Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Evaluate the feedback you receive based on what your organization stands for. Your talent management approach should always ladder up to your EVP.
- Develop guidance on how to address reviews. Identify what you hope to accomplish on these job sites and create a strategy to evaluate reviews and plan for different scenarios with response protocols. Make sure to customize responses to the individual complaints and when faced with more negative feedback, avoid sounding defensive or arguing with the reviewer.
- Focus on what you can control – your profile page and content. Ensure that you have the most relevant and up-to-date information available for job seekers. Develop an editorial plan to consistently push the latest content that reflects your organization’s values and culture through an employee lens. Consider publishing employee-generated content to give job seekers an authentic perspective on any and all aspects of your organization and culture.
- Additionally, these sites offer paid packages for employers that provide access to audience data, share best practices and resources to amplify content, promote job postings and company updates, and more. Glassdoor and Comparably also have annual workplace awards based on employee reviews and surveys that further elevate employer reputation among job seekers.
- Keep your owned channels up to date. Ensure your careers site and social channels provide job seekers with as much information as possible about your company. If there are Q&As posted on your review page, consider working them into your own careers site so you can provide answers before candidates have the chance to ask. Internal advocates are also a great way to bump up the content on your careers page and incorporate an employee voice.
- Be cautious of asking employees for reviews. Even though companies may be tempted to request positive comments from employees, there’s a high chance this could backfire and result in more negative reviews. In general, we recommend that employers prioritize open feedback and focus on using internal channels to engage and check in on employees.
- Equip HR and recruiters with relevant information and talking points. Keep them informed of frequently asked questions and topics that arise on Glassdoor, so they can be prepared to answer candidates’ questions. This allows recruiters to counter misinformation and inaccuracies without engaging directly on these platforms.
Negative online employer reviews can be frustrating, like you’re being recognized for all of the bad and not enough of the good. However, these reviews can be a valuable source of insight into your internal culture. Keep track of this feedback and hold yourselves accountable with an honest culture check to address any underlying issues—ones you may not have even been aware of. Ultimately, these reviews should serve the higher priority of engaging with and caring for your employees, making for a strong company culture that speaks for itself.