How to address negative employer reviews

It’s been said before that businesses should treat employees like customers. Further to this, businesses can turn negative employee feedback into an opportunity to demonstrate listening, transparency and empathy, to assist with attracting and retaining a committed workforce.

Inevitable negative company reviews by an employee are unavoidable for most businesses; and how a business responds can show professionalism and signal that an employer listens and takes the issue of employee input seriously. “In today’s increasingly connected society, negative employer reviews can spread and gain a lot of attention within a short space of time – but so can a positive reaction from said employer,” explains ManpowerGroup South Africa’s MD, Lyndy van den Barselaar.

While a negative review could easily cause one to panic; van den Barselaar suggests reviewing the following steps instead:

Create channels for resolution

Before a negative review becomes an issue, provide outlets internally for employees to vent, voice problems and come to resolutions. If employees can fix problems through official channels, they won’t necessarily feel the need to anonymously post issues that are festering. Once a negative review or series of negative reviews show up online, it’s even more critical to make sure these internal channels are in place, known to your workforce and taken seriously. “The more proactive an employer is in responding to employee reviews, the better,” adds van den Barselaar.

Listen to the feedback

Negative employee feedback can be difficult to hear, but it can also be warranted and jump-start solutions to fixing the problem. According to The Staffing Advisors Guide to Senior Executive Search, 2017, about 88% of people claim they have been influenced by an online review for most things. When you read a review critical of your company, start with an open mind and honestly assess if this is an issue that is persistent, pervasive and able to be fixed. An early warning of a problem in the form of a negative employer review can prove to be a positive, if it helps head off a larger cultural problem in the company.

Respond professionally – and honestly

Most employee review sites allow managers and leaders to respond through official channels. When doing so, resist the urge to question or undermine the review itself. Instead, answer straightforward that an issue is being addressed, articulate the steps that are being taken to ensure that the issue will be prevented in the future, and other ways the company is proactively responding. Just the act of responding professionally will signal to those reading the reviews that the company hears and responds to feedback.

Responding promptly, honestly and openly will help your organisation, and may even boost your reputation by showing that value and act on employee feedback. “A business doesn’t have to change their entire structure or company culture based on one negative review; however, they can be open to sharing the changes they have made or will be making in response to the concerns expressed,” explains van den Barselaar. Don’t ignore negative reviews – use them as an important opportunity