The Do’s and Don’ts of Responding to Negative Employee Reviews
Even the best employers are bound to receive their fair share of negative employee reviews – some from disgruntled, terminated employees, and some from employees who have experienced first hand the organization’s imperfections, however many there are. However, every company has an opportunity to build their employer brand when they respond to their negative online reviews.
It’s important to remember that the primary reason for responding to negative reviews is to demonstrate your culture to future employees, not necessarily repair the relationship with disgruntled employees. Although your response can help in both cases, it’s much more likely to speak to a potential employee than a former employee.
Without further ado, here are the top do’s and don’ts when responding to negative employee reviews.
- Do make sure a senior manager or executive is responding to negative reviews (the president/CEO whenever possible). This demonstrates a commitment to the mission and vision at the very highest and most important level.
- Do respond to every negative review in a timely manner, no matter how disgruntled the reviewer or the circumstances surrounding the review. In the best case scenario you’d respond within a couple of business days from when the review was published (this is easy to do when you have a profile on kununu, as you’ll get notified for every new review), but if that isn’t possible, within two weeks – one month is a good rule to aim for, as that’ll ensure the reviewer will likely still have their thoughts fresh in mind.
- Do monitor your employer reviews on online platforms in real time, at least once a week. Subscribe for updates with sites that allow employers this convenient option.
- Do set up your employer profile with each employee review platform online. Setting up your profile allows you to Brand yourself as a company and an employer and often provides you with real-time metrics on your reviews and ratings.
- Do cite the mission and vision of the organization in every response. As an example, “We’re so sorry your experience with us didn’t reflect our mission, which is…” This helps demonstrate your commitment to your mission and core values to prospective job seekers.
- Do encourage employees to bring their concerns to a real person so you can initiate any apology and/or action they need.
- Do include contact information for grievances.
- Do speak to the values of today’s worker in a natural way throughout your responses.
[We did an in-depth study with research partner, Energage, about online employee reviews and whether they actually have a negative bias vs. internal feedback. Download that whitepaper “The Truth About Online Employee Reviews” for free here]
- Don’t get defensive in your response. Stay professional, respectful, and courteous, even when responding to the most disrespectful reviews.
- Don’t blame the reviewer, even when you suspect you know who left the review. Take responsibility for their experience with the organization.
- Don’t put your HR or marketing staff in charge of responding to negative reviews. Current and former employees want to hear from somebody who oversaw their performance or their manager’s performance, and future employees want to see that company leaders are invested in the culture.
- Don’t put more emphasis on the company’s reputation than the reviewer’s feelings or experience.
- Don’t use canned responses. Ensure each response is specific and unique.
To summarize, your company’s response to negative employee reviews should:
- recognize and validate an employee’s feelings about their experience within the organization
- provide detailed information about how to get resolution in person from their leader or other leaders within the company
- clearly reflect the company’s mission, vision, and core values
Although negative reviews are often highly emotional, it’s up to the organization to deescalate the situation, show compassion and understanding, and work toward a feasible resolution. And remember, in this open, digital world that we live in you simply can’t expect to hide from any sort of negative feedback online nor hide it from the public and your prospective job candidates – so you might as well embrace all of your employee reviews and make the most of them.
For more best practices on employer branding and attracting talent into your organization, check out our free resources that we’ve made specifically for company leaders, HR and talent acquisition teams.