How to Handle Negative Employee Reviews

by | Aug 8, 2022 | Marketing Strategy

Top Tips for Handling Negative Employee Reviews

When times are good, there is no better company advocate than a happy employee. Unfortunately, when times are not so good, your employees are just as likely to make their voices heard—and those words can hurt in ways you may not even recognize. We often think of reviews impacting consumer decisions, but online review sites for employees hold just as much weight with applicants considering their options. In fact, one study from just a few short years ago found that 1 in 3 people turned down a job offer due to a poor review from a former employee.

Because negative employee feedback can hamper recruiting efforts and crater morale among existing employees, it’s essential to have a plan in place that addresses negative feedback. If you’re struggling with how to approach these types of reviews, you’ll want to read on as we detail a few of our top tips.

Before you play defense, go on offense

The best way to prevent negative reviews from happening is to ensure employees are happy and remain that way. While that’s obviously easier said than done, any reputation management efforts should start with trying to head off those applicant-scaring reviews at the pass. Importantly, strong organizational leadership doesn’t have to encompass big spending—or really any spending at all. Building a strong company culture requires honesty, transparency and connecting your people to the organizational purpose. Make sure you take the time to praise employees for their good work, deliver regular, meaningful feedback, empower employees with autonomy, and create positive experiences.

Update recruiting platform profiles frequently

Websites like Indeed and Glassdoor are go-to spots for applicants looking for not only reviews on a company but information beyond what its customer-facing website says. It’s the owned profiles on these sites where a company can show off its personality and prove to potential employees why they would want to work there. Be sure you’re regularly updating your profiles with new information, articles on the company, employee testimonials and engaging video content. Companies with outdated profiles come off as indifferent to how people view their brands.

Create employee-centric content

It’s a common pitfall for brands to focus so much on creating consumer- or client-facing content that they neglect to make content tailored to employees. Whether it’s on your social media accounts, public website or intranet, make it a priority to generate content about your people. Consider this kind of recognition part of your strategy to stop negative reviews from occurring before they happen—because who doesn’t like to feel special?

Regularly monitor for negative reviews

What’s worse than a negative review on a site like Indeed or Glassdoor? A negative review that no one knows about or reviewed. It’s imperative that you assign communications and/or HR teammates to review and respond (more on that in a bit) to reviews on a weekly basis. As part of that process, you’re likely to find reviews that are spam, fake or break the site’s terms of service, which means you can dispute them and petition for removal.

Respond, but respond the right way

Similar to an outdated profile, reviews that don’t have a response make the company look aloof and disinterested in what its people have to say. A response to a review (whether negative or positive) indicates that the company has its finger on the pulse of its workforce—and that’s a good thing. However, there are a few things you must keep in mind. First, each site has its own review process for responding, so you should read up on the best practices of each before diving in. Though there are some differences between Indeed and Glassdoor—along with social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter—one thing you should never do on any of them is respond in anger. Rather than engaging in a public sparring battle, simply apologize for the experience, let the reviewer know that the company is looking into the problem, and ask them to contact a dedicated email you’ve created to discuss the matter further. This will show that you see the issues and are trying to improve.

Close the loop

Following up on the last point, it’s unlikely that a disgruntled employee will take you up on the offer to talk about what went wrong—but in the event that does happen, you must be prepared. Take the complaint seriously, and don’t just write off a bad review as someone being a “Negative Nelly.” Track frequent complaints and form an action committee to concentrate on the most prevalent concerns. 

Though it’s a critical aspect of brand management, handling negative reviews is just one piece of the puzzle. Looking for a partner that can help you improve your entire brand existence? Contact Heart & Hustle Brands today to learn more about what we can do for you.

Stacey Harrison

About the Author

Stacey Harrison is the lead brand strategist and designer at Heart & Hustle Brands and has provided creative direction for healthcare, industrial, and financial services brands for 20 years. She started Harrison Creative Group in 2017 to serve businesses that need a professional brand image on a budget. In 2021, the company rebranded to Heart & Hustle Brands to walk in the shoes of clients that experience a change of name or brand refresh.