Editor Note: This blog has been updated to provide relevant information for 2018
Review sites are the first place most people turn to for information on new products and businesses. Most people trust reviews online more than in-person recommendations and report checking reviews even after receiving positive feedback via word-of-mouth. Before spending hard-earned money, customers like to read first-hand experiences of other consumers.
As it turns out, job-seekers aren’t any different, the popular employee review website known as Glassdoor, has been providing answers to curious talent for years.
Glassdoor is an internet-based employment company that brings together job seekers and the companies looking to hire them. Since its founding in 2007, it has become one of the fastest-growing hiring and recruiting sites on the internet, surpassing CareerBuilder, ZipRecruiter, and others as one of the go-to websites for people looking to advance their careers.
Popular features of the Glassdoor site include databases with job interview reports, salary reports, and CEO ratings. But what perhaps gets the most attention on Glassdoor are anonymously-written employee reviews. Any employee, current or former, can go to Glassdoor and share opinions about their workplace and its management, providing information and viewpoints without having to leave their name.
“Applicants can also share questions asked, what the interview/candidate experience was like, and other details that might be helpful,” wrote one HR consultant.
Glassdoor actively encourages its employees to use the site to put their own business under a microscope, and employees of other sites to do the same.
A Site Like No Other
Glassdoor’s formula has been a tremendous success. The company’s valuation is said to be near $500 million, and it database boasts millions of company reviews.
“No other site,” Glassdoor declares, “allows you to see which employers are hiring, what it’s really like to work or interview there according to employees, and how much you could earn.”
It’s those anonymous employee reviews that really set the company apart, though.
Inspiration for them is said to have come when Robert Hohman, one of Glassdoor’s founders, recalled what happened at a previous job. An incident when he accidentally left the results of an anonymous, in-house company survey out in the open. Anyone could have seen them.
It occurred to Hohman that since the results were anonymous, those survey results might be useful to outsiders, and could provide them with a good idea of what the company was really like, from its corporate culture to employee earning potential. It was from this insight that Glassdoor was born.
In its community guidelines, Glassdoor encourages site users to write thoughtful and well-reasoned commentaries. “We don’t accept reviews that include malicious personal attacks (by name, title or association).” Observers note that most of the employee reviews appearing on Glassdoor are legitimate and adhere to those guidelines.
Most, but not all.
“False and defamatory reviews can nevertheless make it through and up on the Internet,” wrote attorney Whitney C. Gibson. When all is said and done, Gibson notes, Glassdoor publishes reviews at its discretion, and its decisions are final. The Glassdoor team might take a second look at potentially harmful content, he says, but if they decide that content should remain on the site, it will.
Even the threat of legal action, Gibson wrote, may not help. “Glassdoor is not required to defer to a court or to follow a court order.”
How to Respond
So, what’s a company to do if it’s trashed anonymously on Glassdoor? An analyst writing on the Intero Advisory website offered the following ideas on how to respond to negative reviews on Glassdoor in a professional, beneficial manner:
First, recognize that in spite of Glassdoor’s popularity, the people who post there do so anonymously, and can, therefore, be viewed as fringe dwellers. “A few negative comments will not outweigh [the] overall positive.” Of course, more than a few means you may have a bigger problem.
You may not overreact, but those anonymous negative reviews could hurt your company’s reputation. If a job candidate asks about a negative post seen on Glassdoor, own it. Explain why it is wrong. Your company, after all, maybe under new ownership or new management, or it might have been hurt by an economic downturn. Whatever the reason, there’s probably a good explanation, so be transparent.
It’s always a good idea to build out your company’s brand on sites like LinkedIn, which is widely considered the most credible employment social media site. This is the place to honestly describe your company culture. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn Company Page, establish one. Recruit some of your employees to write in support of the company. Unlike Glassdoor reviews, they’ll probably be proud to sign their name to it.
Some industry observers have been highly critical of the Glassdoor business model. Nick Corcodilos, for example, dismissed Glassdoor as just another job board – a curiosity that generates revenue without providing much in return. “The very idea of a website that encourages people to anonymously critique employers is ludicrous and irresponsible,” Corcodilos said. “I think its use is widespread because it makes money. That fact impresses HR executives and the public, leading them all to base business decisions on admittedly untrustworthy information.”
Since any disgruntled employee or job seeker can use Glassdoor to disparage any company, and because there is such a tremendous volume of posts, honest comments inevitably get lost.
Glassdoor Employee Engagement Manager Lisa Holden, meanwhile, insists the company takes its data integrity seriously, and does its best to provide honest and balanced information about the companies that are discussed. “Every review on Glassdoor must meet our community guidelines before it gets published,” she said. “For example, all reviews require both pros and cons. Approximately fifteen percent of reviews submitted to Glassdoor are rejected, as they do not meet community guidelines.”
What kind of impact do Glassdoor reviews really have? A company called Software Advice decided to find out, and surveyed some forty-six hundred job hunters. “Having a strong – and positive – presence on Glassdoor can improve your brand and help pique applicants’ interest in your company,” the Software Advice survey concluded. “After all, the majority of job seekers using Glassdoor do so to research top employers in their field.” So the trick is making sure your company has reviews that are as favorable as possible.
Professional Review Management
If your company is subjected to negative Glassdoor reviews, remember that it is still possible for you to control your own destiny. You must, above all else, be proactive.
Now that you understand Glassdoor’s model and the industry opinion of employee reviews, it’s time to take a closer look at exactly how to respond to negative reviews on Glassdoor…
The answer is simple. Take a well-educated approach that keeps you calm, professional and true to your company culture. Be sincere, never show anger, work to improve any issues that might exist within your company and create a positive relationship with employees. When employees like you, they’re unlikely to lash out, despite the anonymity of their reviews.
You might also consider issuing a yearly anonymous employee survey that invites criticism, letting your employees express any issues they have internally to prevent further negativity on Glassdoor.
If negative reviews persist, and are actively damaging your company’s online reputation, consider turning to our team of professionals at InternetReputation.com. Our reputation management team has had great success and we feel confident we can help you overcome negative Glassdoor reviews. In the process, we can also help you establish a more positive and powerful online presence.
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