How to respond to negative reviews on Glassdoor is becoming an imperative for many startups and emerging growth tech companies.

Much like other review sites (Yelp comes to mind), Glassdoor can be both a benefit and a burden on tech startups and SMBs competing against large enterprises for top talent. A handful of negative responses for a tech company with 50 employees can swing the brand perception needle into the red.

What’s more, it’s not uncommon for Glassdoor reviews to rise to the top of Google searches on a company’s name. Sure, positive reviews can rise to the top as well, but negative reviews have an oversized impact on buyer perception as this article in in Ratedly points out.

So what happens if your company starts receiving negative reviews? You respond! Here are some of my proven tips on how to respond to negative reviews on Glassdoor:

Don’t take it personally

My number one tip is to avoid emotion when you respond to negative Glassdoor reviews. Even if the reviewer takes what you think are cheap shots and misrepresents facts.

The first step is to strip out anything negative from your response. Avoid using ‘no’, ‘can’t’, ‘won’t’, ‘never,’ ‘didn’t’, etc. Then read it for words that express any kind of emotion that could be seen as an attack against the reviewer’s reputation or veracity. In short, take any and all emotional language out of the equation. Period.

Take the high road — Always

When you start writing your response be sure to adopt a non-judgemental, empathetic tone. Acknowledge that the employee has the right to express their opinion about their own employment experience, and that you value feedback in all forms.

Use words like ‘appreciate’, ‘understand’ and ‘care.’ While this approach is not guaranteed to take the sting out of a reviewer’s ill feelings toward your company, it may help. What’s more, it will show other readers that you showed compassion toward someone who just trashed your company’s reputation.

Address employee fit

Like many startups trying to disrupt a traditional industry, your company asks a lot from its employees and management team. Mention that it’s a pace and work environment that may not appeal to 100% of the workforce. In fact, some will even find it disagreeable. Fess up that as an organization you try your best to recruit and hire talent with the best fit possible with your company culture and workplace requirements. Then acknowledge that sometimes the fit is not an ideal one and a parting of the ways is necessary.

Counter with positives

Stressing the positive shows the world that you are focused on delivering a great employee experience. Here’s a chance for you to invoke your company’s values to reassure the reviewer of your commitment to those key principles that are the glue holding your company together.

Another positive to invoke is the experience of a majority of employees who have gained incredible opportunities and experience at your company. Mention that as a company you do care about every employee experience. Also state that you rely upon a variety of feedback loops like surveys and one-on-one employee interviews in order to improve the experience. In other words, show you care and tell them how you are going about accomplishing that.

Categorize the responses

If you have many different reviews focused on different aspects of the employee experience, then you might consider coming up with standardized responses for each category. For example, some reviews may emphasize compensation issues the employee experienced at your company. Another might spend more time criticizing management style and a lack of training for new hires. You can create a template addressing each category. The key is to lightly tweak each one to ‘personalize’ it to the reviewer.

Best wishes

At the end of every response to a negative Glassdoor review, I strongly urge you to end with a ‘best wishes’ statement. Re-emphasize that while the employee has moved on, you do wish them the best for a satisfying career. It shows you bear no ill will toward the employee despite the negative criticism on Glassdoor. It may serve to impress other reviewers and casual readers as well.

No guilty pleas

While you may in fact have had a challenging work environment, and more than a few employees left feeling bitter or resentful, there is no need to admit to any ‘wrongdoing’. That could open the floodgates of criticism and even result in more serious accusations. All the more reason to show empathy, counter with positives and address employee fit. It will serve to deflect the criticism, and keep you from being tried in a court of public opinion.

Final tip: Respond to positive reviews too!

Positive reviews happen on Glassdoor, too, by the way! They just seem to get far less attention compared to negative ones. Thank your positive reviewers so that other Glassdoor readers see you showing your gratitude accordingly.

Got any questions about how to respond to your own company’s negative reviews on Glassdoor? Feel free to contact Swyft and we’ll set up a time to talk.

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