Even a company with the most pristine reputation can’t escape negative feedback every now and then. Unfortunately, the adage of telling 10 people when you have a negative experience is multiplied in today’s society through the role of social media and our lives. We found this article from Inc. particularly helpful, and the rules apply whether it’s one of your own employees or a disgruntled customer. Conflict cannot be ignored. It must be heard and addressed if it has any chance of being resolved.

-Nicole

If Employees Trash Your Reputation Online, Science Says Do This

By J.T. O’Donnell

Managing your company’s reputation as an employer is pretty important these days. If you fail to address concerns, it can escalate to something now known as “employer shaming” – long rants on social media that go viral. Today, all employers are being forced to evaluate and improve the perception of their employer brand, or they will suffer the consequences in the form of increasing difficulty in hiring and keeping good talent.

Denial Is NOT The Answer

Having worked with hundreds of recruiters on their company’s online reputation, I’m amazed at how many employers are still taking the ‘head in the sand’ approach to employee reviews. Especially, on Glassdoor, the leading employer research site for job seekers. Ignoring a negative review tells job seekers you don’t care what employees think about your company. Nobody wants to work for a company that doesn’t respect its employees. When you choose not to respond to negative reviews, you are sending a message: we don’t care what you think.

Job Seekers Are Customers…Of Your Employer Brand

When job seekers study an employer to see if they should apply, it’s a form of customer behavior. Your employer brand is in the spotlight. Thus, when it comes to negative comments about working at your company, we can learn from studies around the best way to respond to customer reviews.

A Harris survey concludes if companies address negative reviews and feedback head-on, the customer often deletes the negative review AND sometimes even posts a positive one. The survey found 68% of customers that left negative reviews got a response, and 18% of these people became loyal customers as a result, and made additional purchases from the company. And, of the customers that received a response from a company after posting negative feedback about their shopping experience, 33% turned around and posted a positive review, and 34% deleted the original negative review.

This aligns with Glassdoor’s own research, where users agree their perception of a business improves after seeing an employer respond to a review by 62%.

Think of it this way: the more proactive you are in responding to employee reviews, the more control you have over the perception of your employer brand and your ability to hire top talent.

Follow The 3A’s To Respond To Reviews

Besides responding quickly and politely, the secret to an effective rebuttal to a negative review is to follow the 3As:

Acknowledge – thank them for taking the time to share their thoughts and feelings. This doesn’t mean you need to apologize. Especially, if the review contains inaccurate information.

Articulate – do your homework and provide facts and research to offer perspective and, if necessary, the counter-argument to what has been stated by the employee. Job seekers know there are two sides to every story. It’s up to you to share the circumstances as objectively as possible so a job seeker can draw their own conclusion.

Advise – offer potential job seekers some guidance on how they could avoid having a similar experience to the one shared by this employee. More importantly, openly encourage them to contact you to discuss it. This can drive more applications.

Don’t Let Employee Reviews Ruin Your Reputation As An Employer

The time you invest in learning to properly respond to all employee reviews (good and bad), will pay off in the long run. Not only will you give job seekers added perspective which will encourage them to apply, you’ll also be able to identify and address areas for improvement to make working at your company and even better experience. And, when you do, be sure to mention it in your future responses to reviews!

J.T. O’Donnell is the founder and CEO of  Workitdaily.com.  and a contributor to Inc .com where a version of this article originally appeared.

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