Panicked by Online Company Reviews? Here’s What to Do

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By Genevieve Douglas

Nearly any experience or product can receive an online review these days, and employers are finding they are no exception. But when a company review comes in, who should respond and what should they say?

Human resources departments or employer branding teams most commonly should be monitoring reviews on various job websites, Jonna Sjövall, managing director of the Americas for global employer branding firm Universum, told Bloomberg BNA Sept 18. However, executives from the business department that’s specifically cited in a review should also be involved, she said, because reviewers tend to prefer responses from executives than those from HR.

HR still must help with drafting the response, however, because it’s the department best trained to be tactful, concise, and appropriate, Sjövall said. In an ideal world, HR or employer branding will flag the review for response, draft a reply, and then get input from the mentioned business unit and have that unit do the posting, she said.

The biggest mistake an employer can make is leaving a review unanswered, Scott Dobroski, community expert for jobs website Glassdoor, told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 14. “No one expects perfection, but they do expect feedback today. Remaining silent is no longer the norm,” he said. In fact, for many job seekers, the response to the review is more important than the positive or negative content of the review, Dobroski said.

According to Glassdoor research, 87 percent of the site’s users find the employer perspective useful when learning about jobs and companies, Dobroski said.

Crafting the Right Response

Responses to company reviews should be authentic, not full of corporate-speak and business jargon, Dobroski said. “The response should also be a realistic representation of the culture and values the organization holds,” he added. “Transparency can actually help you recruit other employees.”

Dobroski also recommended that HR ensure review responses are posted consistently so job seekers researching the company see “constant and frequent” communication to both positive and negative reviews. Negative reviews may initially induce panic, but they “definitely won’t break a company,” Dobroski said. The average Glassdoor user typically reads six or seven reviews before forming an opinion, he said.

The most important part of a response is making the reviewer feel heard, Adrienne Weissman, chief marketing and customer officer for online review platform provider G2 Crowd, told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 14. The employer should always find a way to accept the feedback in a constructive way, whether the review is positive, negative, or neutral, she said.

Company messages should also include a description of any actions taken in response to the review, Weissman said. If the review is completely negative, employers should try to respond in a way that shows the business is taking the criticism seriously, and, if needed, find a way to move the conversation into a more private forum, she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Genevieve Douglas in Washington at gdouglas@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tony Harris at tharris@bna.com

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