I’ve been quietly watching a fews companies’ reputations on Glassdoor fall for about a year now. It’s a massacre. That worst part is that most of the blood drawn originates from these companies repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot, over and over.
For companies there is a silver lining to a stretch of bad reviews; it tells you what your employees’ gripes are without a filter. This is about as close as you’re going to get to reading their minds. Obviously an organization doesn’t want to broadcast its disfunction to potential candidates, but there is some good to be made out of it.
With this in mind, you can make it a whole lot worse. Here’s how…
The absolute worst thing you can do is to start writing fake positive reviews; it WILL backfire. Beyond not being ethical, to anyone with half a brain these stick out like a red thumb. Yes, even the fake lukewarm reviews stick out. Ultimately, fake reviews insult the intelligence of the candidates that may come into the company. They also make the company look like they are hiding something rather than patching it up. To the content employees these will be a source of embarrassment. To those disgruntled employees or ex-employees on the sidelines, you’re inviting them to write negative reviews. This is a hydra with which you’re better off walking away from. This is what I call “shooting yourself in the foot”.
The second foot gets shot off when the positive reviews start criticizing the negative reviews. Don’t do this. This is a flag to everyone observing that, if it’s not already a fake review (which it likely is), it’s written by a company tool. In the best circumstances a prospective employee would likely just ignore these.
The third foot (if there was such a thing) gets shot off when someone at the company responds to the negative reviews without addressing the issue. The only response that is warranted is something like “We strive to foster an exciting, inclusive, dynamic team environment, but we have apparently fallen short. We apologize, and will take your comments into consideration so that we may improve in the future. Please give me a call so that we can further discuss this with you”. If the negative review rails on about mistreatment but has a minor compliment about office decor, don’t thank them for the compliment without addressing the larger issue. One might think this is something that doesn’t need to be said, but I’ve actually seen this occur. I can only guess that the person writing on behalf of the company believed they could perform some sort of Jedi mind trick causing the negative review to be erased from the mind of the reader.
What it comes down to is many might consider interviewing with a company with a stretch of bad reviews, but would likely ask about those bad reviews at the interview. A couple of bad reviews isn’t going to kill your reputation. Readers know that anonymity emboldens the fringes of society. With that said, most (myself included) wouldn’t touch a company with a swath of fake reviews with a ten foot pole.
Like in all things, being honest and respectful of the people around you seems like a better path. You might as well start down that path with your employees before they’ve even shown up for their first day of work. I’ll bet you can argue yourself out of taking that path, but it’s ill fated if you want to convince people to spend any time out of their career with your organization.