Bad Employee Reviews: How to get your employees to speak up, not out

Are they saying this about you?


A few weeks ago, a Yelp employee wrote an open letter on her experiences in her role to the CEO of the company, and needless to say, it was less than positive. Most of us read the article or saw headlines on our Facebook and Twitter feeds. Some people were shocked by the boldness of her actions; others didn’t think twice. When I read the article, I thought how much harder it is going to be for recruiters to place people at Yelp. Companies have always had to deal with bad PR but now with the ease of social media, those complaints are becoming more and more public and frequent.

No matter if you agree or disagree with the former Yelp employee’s article, it is still likely to raise a red flag for most people thinking about applying for a job at Yelp. In a survey by Glassdoor, “69% of surveyors said they would not take a job with a company that had a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed.” In the same survey, they found a whopping 84% would consider leaving their current jobs if offered another role with a company that had an excellent corporate reputation. With these types of statistics, it is more important than ever to manage the perception your company is leaving on your employees.


Here are my top tips on how to get your employees to speak up to you, and not out to the public:


  1. Check your Glassdoor and Yelp reviews: One of the weekly tasks someone in your HR department should be responsible for is checking Glassdoor, Yelp, and any other company review sites. If you have not checked your company’s reviews in a while, stop reading this article and check them right now. Being informed of the issues your employees are experiencing is the first step in trying to correct them. One bad Glassdoor review is not going to have a terrible effect on your business. However, it is important to make sure that one bad review does not turn into two, and two into twenty.


  1. Create an internal system for complaints (because no workplace is perfect): Give employees an internal outlet so they can be heard without having to turn to Twitter, Glassdoor, or Gawker. Most companies try to impose an open-door policy. This is a great first step but many employees still do not feel comfortable discussing issues with someone they have to work with on a daily basis. An excellent solution is setting up an internal, anonymous posting board for employees to post their concerns. This can work for companies of all sizes. The system should blatantly state that each post or comment is completely anonymous and that their IP address cannot be tracked.


  1. Have an open discussion with your employees: If you have quite a few bad reviews online, it may be time to sit down with your staff and have an open discussion about the complaints and how the issues can be resolved. Reviews online are not just meant for outsiders; they are a great way for HR departments and Executives to gauge employee happiness, support, and concerns. The nature of many of these review platforms is to be anonymous, so make sure you are doing your part to speak to a department, or team, as a whole so that no one person feels singled out. If the online reviews are not favorable, you may want to hire a third party mediator to come in and have separate discussions with employees and managers. Have the mediator guide the discussion around company culture, business practices, and management styles. Then the mediator can isolate the core issues the employees are facing and present them to management in an anonymous and planned out way.


At the end of the day, most employees just want their voice to be heard. What have you done to ensure your employees are being listened to?