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The Reviews Are In

As seen in Long Island Business News, September 13, 2019

See article here.

Reviews can ‘provide a good opportunity to look for ways to grow and change an organization,’ said Erin McKown. (Photo by Judy Walker)

Your employees may be sharing the good and the bad about working at your organization, for all to see – including potential hires. These inside glimpses of your company may linger indefinitely, whether that’s advantageous to your firm, or not.

If the feedback is positive, then all is well. But what if the assessments are less than stellar?

Experts shared strategies about the kinds of reviews employees post anonymously on Glassdoor, Indeed and other recruiting sites.

Your best course of action, they say, is one that’s proactive.

“Human resources should be monitoring Glassdoor” and similar sites, said Katherine Heaviside, president of Huntington-based Epoch 5 Public Relations, whose services include crisis and issues management, social media and other areas.

And for organizations that are too small for a dedicated HR team, “someone should be designated to moderate it,” she said.

These online platforms are “a great source of information of how people are feeling about and perceiving your organization,” said Erin McKown, director of corporate development and training services at National EAP, a provider of employee assistance programs in Hauppauge.

When the reviews are tough (but fair), employers may seek ways to introduce improvements. And when reviews are positive, they could become part of an employer’s overall recruitment effort.

At a time when the labor market is tight, having a strategy to deal with reviews is key, experts said.

How significant are these reviews? When potential hires consider working at a company, they will likely encounter a Glassdoor or Indeed review, which often surface on the first page of an Internet search. Glassdoor, for example, draws 67 million unique monthly visitors, and features 50 million reviews, salaries and insights, according to the company.

What potential hires see on these sites could make or break their decision to accept a hiring offer.

“Nearly three in four Glassdoor users read at least four reviews before forming an opinion of a company, so it’s incredibly important for employers to read and respond to reviews,” Scott Dobroski, a Glassdoor spokesperson, said.

 

Reviews posted by employees on career sites can foster an ‘online listening strategy,’ said David Gill. (Photo by Judy Walker)

Constructive criticism

Reviews by employees can be so meaningful, some organizations encourage team members to post their feedback to the career platforms.

This tactic invites criticism, but employers who ignore these kinds of comments do so at their own risk, experts say.

The reviews “provide a good opportunity to look for ways to grow and change an organization, if you pay attention,” McKown said.

With negative reviews, “use them to your benefit,” assuming they are not from a disgruntled employee, McKown said.

“Look for patterns,” she added. “If multiple people are saying the same thing, pay attention.”

And while employers may hope for positive feedback, consider that “if there is a problem, this really gives you a chance to fix it,” Heaviside said.

“You want people to be honest with you during the time they are with you” and not just when they leave such as during an exit interview, she added.

 

When addressing negative feedback, ‘be very careful to craft the response well,’ said Katherine Heaviside. (Photo by Judy Walker)

Leverage the feedback

Employers can maximize insights from the online reviews.

Take Northwell Health: “In the past three or four years, we’ve heightened attention to [Glassdoor], using it as input for how well we are doing,” said David Gill, the healthcare system’s assistant vice president for employee experience. “We’re trying to build a workplace where people would like to come to work.”

The reviews foster “an online listening strategy,” he said.

And it means leveraging the feedback – the good and the bad, Gill said.

The organization established a process to address negative reviews.

Sometimes, he said, the comments “are not fully informed,” where someone may say, “I wish you had a mentoring program,” when the organization may already have one in place. The moment provides opportunity to share and promote information about the program, so anyone reading reviews can learn about it.

At Northwell, the team responds to “a few reviews – good and bad, positive and negative, but not all, and depending on the actual comment,” Gill said.

And when responding, respect is key.

“Be very careful to craft the response well,” Heaviside said, adding that some who post negatively may do so because they are a bad fit with the organization.

“It’s important not to get emotional about it when it first happens,” Heaviside said.

Gill agreed: “In our responses, we are always appreciative,” he said.

And when responding to negative reviews, acknowledge the person’s experience, express thanks for the comment and talk about any new directions  – for example, training, or salary increases – at the organization that have since been implemented, McKown said.

Knowing it’s important to increase online views to attract and retain talent, Gill and his team encourage employees to leave reviews, if they feel comfortable writing one.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative,” he said. “From a cultural perspective, we try to build a positive, transparent and trusting culture, and this leads to more positive reviews.”

The effort “is a method [to assess] are we doing something well or poorly,” he said. “It’s the voice of our customers.”

‘I always like to see the manager responding,’ Howard Miller said about online reviews. (Photo courtesy of Bond Bond, Schoeneck & King)

And that’s important, said Howard Miller, a member of Bond, Schoeneck & King, a law firm with offices in Garden City.

Miller likened an employee review to that of a customer review on a site like TripAdvisor, where even the places with positive feedback get a post from someone who says, “This place is awful.”

“I always like to see the manager responding,” he said. And in thanking the person for their comments, and perhaps mentioning a few upgrades, the company looks professional, and shows they care, without necessarily admitting to the merit of the criticism, he added.

If the comments are positive, consider incorporating them into recruitment materials. For example, Zoom, the user conference platform based in San Jose, posted a banner on its careers page to highlight that its chief executive was named a top Glassdoor CEO.

Of course there’s the chance that a negative comment is inaccurate, or even defamatory. Here, organizations may do well to reach out to the platform directly.

“As long as content meets our community guidelines, it will appear on site, but employers can always flag suspicious reviews for free and ask that a Glassdoor team member re-review the content in question,” Dobroski said. “We take our data integrity very seriously, and we reject about 5 to 10 percent of the content submitted to us because it does not meet our community guidelines.”

In these instances, Miller advises against suing.

“It’s best to put efforts into marketing your brand than in legal fees – you’re going down a rabbit hole,” he said.

Heaviside agreed.

“Publicize the good things,” she said.

Sharing the news about promotions, volunteering efforts and new hires in the local paper “establish a positive reputation,” she said.

And that, she pointed out, pushes the negative comments to second page, where nobody looks.