Have you heard about Glassdoor? Presumably, it's a site that job seekers can use to get the inside scoop about a business, long before they choose to apply. According to the company's website, there are some 6 million reviews available on the site, which makes this a pretty robust database of information for someone looking for a job.
But, Glassdoor could also be your worst enemy if you own a company. Why? Because many of the reviews on this site are negative, and removing them can be remarkably difficult.
Anyone can write a review on Glassdoor. As long as you've worked for the company you're reviewing, you're eligible to dish the dirt. Unfortunately, many people choose to hop online only when they're angry.
One review of a business consulting firm comes with this headline: "Poor pay, poor values and ZERO integrity as an organization." A healthcare organization garnered this review: "I'd rather be the victim of a shark attack." And Walmart got this: "Horrible place to work, verbally abusive managers."
To be fair, many people go on Glassdoor to provide information about how much they love their jobs and their careers. They compliment everything from the food served in the cafeteria to the advancement opportunities they've been offered to the management style of their supervisors. But often, positive reviews seem somehow fake or manufactured. And a recent New York Times article isn't helping matters.
The NYT Effect
In Sunday's paper, the Haggler took aim at a laser hair-removal company. Previously, the Haggler outlined difficulties a customer had in getting a refund from this particular company. After that article went to print, employees wrote to the Haggler and suggested that this column was damaging to the reputation of the company. They said were asked to write positive reviews on Glassdoor, to help ameliorate the damage.
The Haggler can't substantiate these claims, of course, as no one in senior management in the company would admit to such tactics. But the column does suggest that the reviews written over a short period of time after the Haggler article printed were all positive, while prior reviews were mainly negative.
Now, it's possible that the company did something remarkable during that short time in order to boost morale. The company may have handed out bonuses, promoted someone wonderful or otherwise did something dramatic to make things better. But the article suggests that all of the positive reviews are fake. And now, it's impossible to read positive reviews without being at least a tiny bit skeptical.
Assessing the Damage
Getting a good rating on Glassdoor can be remarkably helpful for a company's image. For example, companies with great perks could have been included in Glassdoor's ranking of "Top Companies for Compensation and Benefits." That ranking was shared on top websites, including Forbes, so it could have done some companies a lot of good.
But a negative rank could also make a company seem shady or somehow abusive, and since this site has power, that could be harmful. For example, Alexa suggests that Glassdoor has a global rank of 505, and while it's been declining in organic search performance (I'm wondering if it was hit by the Google Panda algorithm), it's still remarkably popular among searchers.
If it appears in search results for a company name, and the reviews are mostly negative while positive reviews seem fake, that could be devastating to a company's reputation. And it's a hard problem to fix.
Finding a Solution
The Glassdoor community guidelines explicitly prohibit coerced reviews. That means employers can't make their workers share the good stuff. Reviews that seem manipulated are just erased. (The hair removal company is learning that the hard way, as many of the reviews mentioned by the Haggler in the NYT piece aren't available now.)
And, that same set of guidelines suggests that the website won't remove reviews that are negative, even if they're asked to do so. If the workers there think the review is valid, it stays.
So what can you do? Look for ways to boost your reputation that don't involve Glassdoor.
Since the site is moving down in search results, it might not have the power it once did. That weakness gives you an advantage. Look for ways to blog about, Tweet about and otherwise promote your company's great employee atmosphere. Share photos from in-house company parties in your social media channels. Do a guest post on an employment blog about your hiring practices. Spread the word about how great your company is, and you might be able to drown out the haters completely.
Don't have the time to do all that? Call us. We can help.