Manage Online Reviews by Putting your Employer Brand First
By: John Rossheim
Online reviews of your company as an employer have become a fact of life. Employees, whether current or more likely former, can post anonymously to online review sites and job boards, including Monster.
So how can you best manage online reviews? Whether you choose to craft a measured response or divert dissatisfaction to other communications channels, you’ll want to put your employer brand first.
Monitor and respond on a schedule. Establish an ongoing rhythm of responding to employee reviews of your company. “Have a routine for responding,” says Patrick Gillooly, former director of digital communication and social media at Monster. “Pick one day each week to spend time focusing on reviews. There are often lots of reviews posted on the weekend, so Monday could be a good day to respond.”
Put your employer brand first. Keep in mind that every word of each response will affect your company’s image. “Allow HR to have a hand in maintaining the employer brand,” says Andre Lavoie, CEO of ClearCompany, which offers talent management software.
“Responses should express gratitude and be respectful. Take the high road by thanking employees for the time they took to write their reviews, then turn their negative online reviews into a constructive conversation.”
Accentuate positive reviews by responding to them. Talent who is seriously interested in your company will follow it on company review sites. Balance their experience of your brand by acknowledging positive reviews. “Respond to as many reviews as you can, both positive and negative,” says Gillooly.
Standardize your voice but individualize each response. While it’s unwise to get personal in responding to a negative review, you should individualize it — all within the profile of your employer branding.
“Have a template to guide your company’s voice,” says Gillooly. “But from there, you’ll want to customize almost every response, so you don’t sound like an automated response tool.”
Flip negative comments from former employees. Begin your response by directly addressing the point your critic makes, but move on swiftly. “With former employees of our clients, we try to rise above the negativity, apologize, compliment them on something positive they did at company, and wish them luck,” says Rebecca McClure, an associate with Axia Public Relations, whose ReviewMaster reputation management software monitors company review sites.
Create a constructive response to criticism. Suggest a solution to your critic’s beef. “Let’s say you read a review that complains of a lack of growth opportunities,” says Lavoie. “Turn that into an opportunity to give examples of how your company places a value on offering professional development to A players, and encourage the reviewer to speak with an immediate supervisor about future opportunities.”
Turn from the critic to address everyone else. Review sites, rather than taking down a negative review, usually advise companies to post a response, according to Joseph Sullivan, a partner at law firm Taylor English in Atlanta. An alternative in this situation is to address that response to the public rather than to the employee, Sullivan says.
Sometimes silence might be the best response. “Often when a comment is not responded to, people will take it with a grain of salt,” says Sullivan. “In a way, any response grants credence to the complaining employee. You don’t want to get personal, get into a back-and-forth, or give identifying information on the person.”
When in doubt, seek legal review. Even in a response to a review posted anonymously, it’s possible for a company spokesperson to defame a current or former employee or to illegally reveal personal information about them. That’s why Sullivan suggests that responses be checked by your company’s legal department or by outside counsel.