By: Krystal Freeman on April 17th, 2023

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How to Respond to A Negative Glassdoor Review

Business Management & Strategy | Recruitment outsourcing

Whatever you think about Glassdoor, one thing is certain—you can’t ignore it. Employees know about it, candidates know about it, and Glassdoor rankings often appear at the top of Google search results. 

Negative Glassdoor reviews can seriously hurt your employer brand, and the bad news is that you can’t control them. Like other review sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor, Glassdoor does not allow companies to remove or amend reviews. Once it’s published, it’s there forever.

But the good news is that you can reply. With the right kind of reply, you can counteract some of the damage caused by a negative Glassdoor review.

Why do employees leave negative Glassdoor reviews?

You should try to reply to as many Glassdoor reviews as possible, especially the negative ones. A well-written reply can provide an alternative perspective, and most candidates will appreciate having both sides of the story.

However, before you start drafting that reply, it’s essential to understand why the employee has written a negative review. Their analysis could be inspired by any number of factors, including:

  • Personal conflict: The worst reviews often result from interpersonal conflict, either with colleagues or a leader. The review may call that individual out by name or title, or they might make a non-specific statement like, “Managers treat their team members badly.”
  • Organizational culture mismatch: These reviews talk about broader issues in the company culture, such as working patterns, collaboration styles, or team structures. This could be because the employee was not a good culture fit—or it could suggest some deeper problem in your culture.
  • DEI issues: Inclusivity issues are very serious, especially if the employee alleges that they suffered bias or discrimination. Employees might also express concerns about lack of support for minorities, such as dedicated Employee Resource Groups.
  • Unmet expectations: Many negative reviews can be summarized as: “I expected this job to be one thing, but it turned out to be something else.” That can be a serious issue from an employee perspective, as it means that they were not moving along their preferred career path.
  • Spam/malicious: Glassdoor is generally very good at filtering spam and identifying fake reviews by bad actors. If you do believe a negative review is false, it could be worth reaching out to Glassdoor support to see if they can take action. Otherwise, it’s generally best to treat all reviews are legitimate and respond accordingly.

Understanding why an employee left a bad review can help you rethink your employer proposition, and possibly fix some serious issues in your culture. Understanding this will also help you write a reply addressing the employee’s concerns while showing your company in the best light.

Download the guide: 20 Question to Ask Your HR Leader

5 tips for responding to a negative Glassdoor review

It’s very tempting to fire back at a negative review, especially if you think the employee has made some unfair comments.

But that’s never a good idea. Your goal is not to set the record straight; your goal is to present a positive image of your company so that candidates feel confident about applying to your job postings. That’s why it’s always better to post a polite, measured, and—most of all—sincere response.

Here’s how to achieve this:

1. Find out more about the employee’s experience

It’s good to get a little context if you can. If you know the ex-employee’s manager, try to find out a little more about the concerns raised in the review. You can also review the employee’s exit interview to see if they discussed those issues with HR.

Glassdoor reviews can be anonymous, so you might be unable to identify the individual who wrote the review. In that case, it’s a good idea to talk to relevant managers and see if you can learn about general employee concerns. Ask them: is this a one-off, or are there bigger team issues?

2. Be polite, supportive, and positive

Don’t try to fight fire with fire. No matter how the employee phrased their review, make sure that your response echoes your cultural values. Be polite and professional, and stay focused on your commitment to a positive employee experience.

Also, try to use positive statements rather than negative ones. For example, if someone says that the internal promotion process is unfair, you could say, “We never discriminate in our leadership development process." However, it sound much better when you say something like, “Professional development is key part of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program. We aim to support all of our colleagues equally, and we're always open to feedback on how we can do better.”

3. Address each point raised in the review

It’s important to acknowledge each point in the review. Read it carefully and make notes on the major points, such as compensation, culture, inclusivity, and opportunity. By responding to these points, you’ll show that you genuinely listen to employee concerns.

Don’t attempt to dispute any of the points raised in the review. Instead, focus on positive counter-examples that show the best aspects of your work culture. If the review raises some valid criticisms, acknowledge them and talk about plans to improve the employee experience.

4. Try to repair the relationship

Ex-employees will often go back to a previous employer. “Boomerang employees” account for around 28% of all new hires, which is why it’s important to maintain good relationships with your former staff. A thoughtful response on Glassdoor could help reset your relationship, and that might open the door to a future reunion.

Even if you don’t want that employee to rejoin your team, it’s helpful to try and mend fences. If you can improve your relationship with them, they are more likely to recommend you as an employer in their personal network. They might even go back and change their Glassdoor review.

5. Take action on feedback

Negative Glassdoor reviews often contain some important feedback about how your company really works. Ex-employees might raise valid points about things like DE&I, compensation, or problems with your organizational culture.

It’s a good idea for HR to run a feedback session where you can analyze feedback from negative Glassdoor reviews. Look for ways to improve, take appropriate action, and try to offer the best possible employee experience. Ultimately, this is the only way to guarantee positive Glassdoor ratings in the future.

Get help with your Glassdoor rating

Want to know the secret to a positive Glassdoor rating? 

There's actually no secret. It's just a matter of consistently providing a great employee experience, which you can do with a positive culture, active DEI strategy, smart hiring processes, and a skilled HR team. 

If you need to boost your HR strategy, get in touch with Helios HR. Book a call with a consultant and see how you can become an employer of choice.

Download the guide: 20 Question to Ask Your HR Leader