How to Beat Bad Glassdoor Reviews and Attract Top Marketing Talent to Your Brand

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Take a second, open up, and search for your business. What comes up?

If you’re unfamiliar with what you’re seeing, Glassdoor is an anonymous review site for current and former employees to leave feedback on the places they work. If your company has more than a handful of people, it’s likely you’re one of the 542,000+ businesses listed with such a review. The anonymity gives anyone the opportunity to candidly share what working with your organization is like.

You may think those reviews are valid. You may regard them as low-value feedback from emotional current or former employees. You might even think that they’re meaningless comments left by internet trolls.

But here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter. Regardless of how useful you find Glassdoor reviews, you can rest assured that prospective employees will certainly be checking them. If you’re dismissing what people are saying about you online, you’re ignoring the reality of how top marketers are approaching their career growth today. And that’s the quickest way to lose any opportunity to bring in difference-making A-players. This is something huge brands, growing startups, and marketing temp agencies alike all need to understand.

Smart, ambitious marketers (i.e. the ones that you want) are going to be using every resource available to inform their career decisions. For better or worse, that will include online reviews of your workplace environment and corporate culture. Nearly half of job seekers check Glassdoor during their search, according to a survey by Software Advice:

A marketing leader should be doubly concerned about Glassdoor reviews. Not only can they affect the quality of talent you’re able to attract; your employment brand also reflects back on your marketing brand. It’s very difficult to divorce the two. Notoriety for treating employees poorly or a toxic work environment makes a negative impression on your customers, and unhappy staff often lead to a poor customer experience. On the other hand, a well-developed reputation as a good employer backs up any messages you push about caring for people, corporate responsibility, and fairness.

If you have favorable ratings and reviews, that’s good news. But if that feedback isn’t so positive, it can be an obstacle between your business and the talent you need. Marketing recruitment agencies see all too often how poor employment brand management can cost businesses their best candidates. In fact, a negative employment brand costs a company 10% more per hire–and that’s not the mention the costs of missing out on A-tier talent. Organizations with unfavorable reviews should be proactive with a strategy to understand and manage their employment brand online.

How to Overcome a Negative Glassdoor Rating

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Pay Attention to Employee Feedback

The first, and most important, thing to do with negative employee feedback is to listen. Sure, it’s possible that you have a slew of negative Glassdoor reviews from former employees with an unfair vendetta, or an internet troll just trying to smear your reputation. But more than likely many of your reviews have some merit, as well.

Even the most in-tuned business leaders can’t see the entire picture of what’s happening in their organization. Something you may assume to be operating entirely fine could actually be in a state of disarray. And sometimes anonymous input is the only way you’ll catch wind of it.

Speaking of which, you should already have some kind of strategy in place to regularly gather employee feedback, complaints, and suggestions. Your staff should be encouraged (and even rewarded) to provide honest, productive and anonymous input. Employees who feel like their voices are heard and respected will be less likely to vent their frustrations through another outlet like Glassdoor that’s out of your control.

Understand Trends

When checking your organization’s ratings on Glassdoor or any other online review site, it’s important to consider the circumstances and environment in which people have left reviews. For instance, your organization might have a middling overall rating–but perhaps all the reviews from the last year are more positive than previous, indicating you’re heading in the right direction. That’s something you’ll want to be able to emphasize to new potential employees.

Another trend to watch is how feedback varies depending on the job of the individual providing it. For instance, you might have a disgruntled IT department while your marketing team is considerably happier than industry benchmarks. This is something you need to keep in mind when recruiting for a specific vertical.

Here’s a great example featuring a major brand, Walmart. By far the most common source of reviews for this business comes from current or previous employees with the title “Sales Associate:”

corporate marketing employment agencies

Screenshot taken 8/18/16. Results may have changed since.

However, you get a very different picture if you filter by employees with “marketing” in their title.

Glassdoor marketing job review

Screenshot taken 8/18/16. Results may have changed since.

That’s valuable context you would definitely want to know if you were recruiting for their marketing team!

Respond to Feedback

Businesses can be active on Glassdoor, too. 62% of job seekers say their “perception of a company improves after seeing an employer respond to a review,” according to a Glassdoor survey. It’s simple enough to set up an an account with a free employer profile, though you should manage control of it carefully. Once established, you’ll have the ability to comment on reviews left by others–though they will be moderated by Glassdoor.

Be proactive, but not aggressive. Don’t attempt to single anyone out or dismiss a review as invalid. Respond to tough reviews that give meaningful criticism–not just “softballs” that give praise. When acknowledging a problem, talk about probably causes and what you’re doing to mitigate them. And never, under any circumstances, try to skew ratings by submitting fake reviews of your own. Those are easy to pick out, and it would be incredibly embarrassing to be caught stacking the deck.

Be Ready to Answer Candidates’ Questions

It’s important to be ready to address concerns about a blemished employment brand, especially when communicating directly with talent.

In particular, you don’t want to appear clueless and out of touch with a bad reputation, if you have one. Instead, you and anyone on your interview panel should be able to acknowledge your mixed reviews and talk about the more common trends that would affect the candidate. Ask them if anything in particular about the Glassdoor reviews was concerning, and be ready to respond. Again, you shouldn’t be dismissive or contrarian with the reviews, even if you disagree with them.

Furthermore, you should take steps to show off your good side (and if you don’t have much of a good side, make one!). If a candidate brings up some negative reports, you should acknowledge them–but also find a way to mention the things you’re doing right for your employees. Maybe it’s a new initiative that’s doubling down on improving culture, or exceptional benefits and perks, or a commitment to training and educating your team. Find something that stands out, and highlight it!

Need some inspiration? Check out a few of these examples we love:


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