Company Got a Bad Online Review – Now What?

Image Credit: Fotolia

Image Credit: Fotolia

In today’s more connected world, it seems everyone has something to say about experiences with certain companies. One of the most concerning things to come out of this movement has been the emergence of company reviews made by employees. These reviews can be written by candidates who have encountered company recruitment practices, from current employees, or from employees who have left a company for a number of reasons. The majority of reviews talk about working conditions, management practices, and compensation – three factors that can make or break a company.

What if your company gets a negative online review from a candidate or employee?

It’s fairly common for companies to get reviews from candidates, employees, and former employees thanks to popular and free company review websites out there. In just minutes, anyone can anonymously publish information about a company; whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter. However, if your company gets a negative review, there are some steps to take now.

#1 – Evaluate the comments made about your company

When reading the review, take the time to carefully evaluate the place that it’s coming from, who actually wrote it (if you can guess), and how deep it goes. The review may seem negative, but in fact it points out some truths that are hidden in the company culture. Try not to take it personally, but consider what the review represents – the ability to gain insight about a particular area of the business that may need attention. For example, the company may be lagging in terms of compensation, if it’s brought up in reviews.

#2 – Use this as a learning opportunity

Whether the review is negative or somewhat positive, try to look at it with full objectivity. Maybe there are nuggets of insight you can gleam from this experience? Negative reviews are an opportunity to learn about the experiences of candidates and employees from their perspective. This is a unique time to learn how to improve the company in the near future as it may bring a real issue into greater focus.

#3 – Contact the website director to have it removed

If the negative company review is outright slander, names particular people or clients, contains vulgarity or false information about your company or a member of the leadership team, the most important thing is to request to have this removed from the website immediately. Look up the website hosting company to find out this information, or locate webmaster contact information found in the site credits or ‘about us’ section. Point out the specific review, what you want removed, and then follow up by phone if necessary to make sure this happens.

HR strategies for keeping negative company reviews down

Fortunately, there are also some measures that can be taken now to stop these negative comments from ending up on a public review site in the first place.

Encourage confidential in-house employee surveys

Oftentimes, what prompts a candidate or employee to post a negative review is the chance to finally have their voice heard. Instead of letting this happen frequently with your employees, offer them a confidential survey to communicate their concerns, ideas, and complaints in a safer forum. Use 360 degree surveys on a regular basis to accomplish this.

Have a formal employee exit interview process

Too many employees who are on their way out the door (or have been terminated) use online company review sites to seek vengeance on past managers. Reduce this from happening by scheduling an exit interview before any employees leave the company. This provides a dedicated time to talk about issues that have caused dissatisfaction and hopefully leave the employee with a warmer departure.

Keep an eye on company reviews with alerts

It’s important that the company has a way of tracking company reviews at all times, without going overboard. Use an email alert that keeps track of keywords relating to your company name, the names of the leadership team, and any mentions of the company in online posts. Pay attention when the company updates salaries, benefits, and other compensation as this can be a sore point with some employees.

Encourage employees a reason to write honest and positive reviews

Instead of discouraging the use of company review websites, why not provide an incentive for employees who take the time to write honest and positive reviews using these same platforms? This can be done anonymously and each employee can voluntarily report if he or she chooses to do this to an immediate supervisor. While incentives are not always the answer, it can be a nice way to say “thanks” to those who share an honest review of the company in a public way.

Give employees a reason not to post negative press 

If employees have a positive experience at your company, they may not be as tempted to resort to writing negative company reviews at all. In fact, they may be more likely to become raving fans of your company and refer colleagues and talent to your doors. How can this be accomplished? Above average compensation and benefits, great management policies, and an authentic corporate culture that honors employees can go a long ways towards prevention.

Remember to use company reviews as a learning opportunity —  to improve the workplace culture with more positive experiences, compensation, and career development.

AUTHOR BIO: Tess C. Taylor, PHR, CPC, SHRM-CP; Founder of HR Knows and The HR Writer, is a seasoned human resources content developer and career coaching professional in New York. She is passionate about educating others about human resource topics and policies, and has been featured on About.com (Employee Benefits), BlogHer, Career Addict, Glass Ceiling, HR Magazine, PayScale Compensation Today, and US News Careers, among others.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.

Author: Tess C. Taylor, CPC, PHR, SHRM-CP

Tess C. Taylor, PHR, CPC, SHRM-CP; Founder of HR Knows and The HR Writer, is a seasoned human resources content developer and career coaching professional in New York. She is passionate about educating others about human resource topics and policies, and has been featured on About.com (Employee Benefits), BlogHer, Career Addict, Glass Ceiling, HR Magazine, PayScale Compensation Today, and US News Careers, among others.

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