How to Respond to Negative Anonymous Employee Reviews
Introduction – What is the issue with anonymous employee reviews?
When a company recruits employees, some candidates check the anonymous reviews published about it on portals such as Glassdoor and Gowork. According to a survey conducted by LMC Poland, 43% of respondents review opinions about employers on available portals (source). In the further part of the article, I will be talking about Gowork, although I have in mind most portals where you can publish anonymous reviews about employers.
Naturally, portals such as Gowork do not enjoy unblemished reputations among employers. Anonymous opinions, on one hand, allow individuals to express their views about an employer without exposing themselves to negative consequences. However, on the other hand, they also enable the publication of content that might not accurately reflect reality.
Unfortunately, in practice, employer profiles on portals like Gowork are often filled with negative and offensive comments. Such profiles provide little substantive value for either the candidate or the employer. Some published entries present individual opinions as facts, sometimes alleging illegal or even criminal actions by employers (e.g., failure to pay taxes).
Employers often feel powerless in the face of anonymous authors, and offensive entries discourage companies from engaging in discussion. As a result, profiles on Gowork become cluttered, and after a few seconds, they lose their appeal for readers.
This situation benefits no one. First and foremost, it does not serve candidates who are seeking substantive, balanced opinions. Secondly, it also fails to benefit employers, whose profiles on Gowork cease to be a tool for sharing knowledge about their company with the candidate community. I believe that this state of affairs is also detrimental to portals like Gowork, which are routinely ignored by some employers.
My Experience with Gowork
Once, when I was managing a company of several dozen people, I had to part ways with an employee because, despite mutual efforts – both mine and the employee’s – things were simply not going well. We had a conversation during which I asked if there was anything else I could have done to help our cooperation. I received the answer that nothing more could be done.
About a day later, this employee’s post appeared on Gowork (even signed with his name), in which he completely disparaged the company and me. Of course, I did not remain indifferent and immediately responded, signing my full name.
There were probably a few more situations on Gowork, but this one stuck in my mind the most.
I am an advocate of my good name and reputation and that of the company I represent. If someone publishes comments, whether positive or negative, I respond to them on the merits.
I believe that criticism is necessary, but it should be fair and constructive. If comments are detached from reality, it is my role to present that reality. If a comment focuses on insulting instead of being substantive, I will report it for deletion.
Currently, I am not affected by the problem because I do not recruit, and at Element, we have an intimate, not to say, family team. However, most companies do not have such a comfortable situation. Some candidates always check employer reviews on portals like Gowork and Glassdoor. And the job market is challenging right now, so negative reviews definitely do not help with recruitment.
Supporting Employers in Dealing with Negative Feedback on Gowork
This article has been written to help employers address negative reviews published on the Internet.
The content of the article summarizes and complements what I discussed in a recent webinar about feedback on Gowork.
You will learn how to enhance your employer’s image on Gowork at no cost and with relatively little effort.
Portals for Anonymous Employer Reviews in Poland and Around the World
While preparing to discuss this topic, I often encountered negative opinions about Gowork. I got the impression that employers perceive Gowork as something unique, a portal that stands out and whose disappearance would solve the entire problem of anonymous reviews. However, this is far from the truth.
In Poland, this portal is known as Gowork; in Germany, it is called Kununu, and on a global scale, there are portals like Indeed or Glassdoor. Anonymous employer review platforms are widespread across the world, and if Gowork were to disappear, it would immediately be replaced by another portal under a different name.
Glassdoor, the world’s largest portal for anonymous employer reviews, covers Polish companies as well.
Here is a summary of the average monthly number of visitors to these portals, according to Similarweb.
Gowork Reviews Aren't Limited to Entry-Level Positions
It’s important to remember that Gowork reviews are published and read not just by entry-level employees. Even specialists earning tens of thousands of zlotys a month will verify employer reviews on Gowork when faced with significant career decisions.
Below are two examples of posts taken from a discussion group for programmers:
What Happens if an Employer Doesn't Respond to Negative Feedback
An employer’s lack of response to anonymous reviews often leads to their profile being dominated by predominantly negative comments:
Consequences of Not Responding to Negative Feedback on Gowork
Not addressing negative comments on Gowork can have several consequences for both the employer and potential candidates:
- Candidates don’t receive substantial information about the employer. Negative comments left unanswered by the employer tend to lose their informative aspect, focusing on emotions and a one-sided view of working conditions. Emotions and subjective perspectives don’t provide the objective and informative exchange that candidates seek.
- The lack of factual information discourages candidates from applying. Even if they suspect that working conditions aren’t as bad as the comments suggest, candidates may be deterred from taking the risk of applying.
- Candidates are discouraged from engaging in discussion, including asking questions that could be answered by company employees. The lack of potential candidates’ activity on the employer’s profile is a missed opportunity to attract applicants and share positive information about the employer with all other profile visitors.
- It creates an impression that the employer doesn’t care about candidates’ opinions. When comparing different profiles, a candidate may view a company more favorably if it is active on its profile and cares about its reputation.
- The employer might not notice valuable feedback that highlights a real problem.
- The employer gives unlimited freedom to individuals who intentionally provide false information, which could include disgruntled former employees or unfair competitors.
If you’re inclined to downplay the issue, consider the infographic presented earlier: Gowork is visited by an average of 6.5 million people per month. Moreover, the Google Analytics report below shows the monthly number of searches for Gowork-related keywords.
Individual company profiles on Gowork are searched several hundred times a month. Whether your company’s profile is searched a few hundred or a few dozen times per month, is it worth letting these people see a neglected profile that undermines the employer’s brand instead of supporting it?
Lastly, remember that the above statistics don’t include people who learn about negative reviews in ways other than direct Google searches. Word-of-mouth is a primary method candidates use to share opinions they’ve heard or read.
Effectively and Free of Charge: Responding to Negative Feedback on Review Platforms like Gowork
Before I got involved in building an ATS system (by the way, I encourage you to check it out – get to know the ATS Element!), I ran a recruitment company and personally experienced unjustified, negative reviews on Gowork. It was then that I encountered my fair share of unmerited negative feedback on review platforms like Gowork. Recognizing that inaction wasn’t an option, I was compelled to step up and address the situation. Taking advantage of the free opportunity these platforms provide to respond, I managed to safeguard my company’s online profile.
In the following paragraphs, I will outline how I upheld my company’s reputation. These best practices are offered not as a representative of Gowork or as an employer branding guru, but from the perspective of a business owner who takes pride in their company and reputation. The tactics I present are not only proven to be effective through my own experience, but their positive impact is evident across various other company profiles.
The first, straightforward, yet potent approach to handling negative feedback is to engage with all comments — both positive and negative. You can publish your responses under your own name, as an “Employer,” “Employee,” or even under a pseudonym.
When responding, please keep several points in mind:
- Maintain a professional demeanor, use courteous language, and refrain from insulting the authors of negative posts — even if their remarks come across as offensive or crude. That said, you should tactfully address any vulgarity by kindly encouraging more respectful language.
- Embrace criticism and exhibit a willingness to take necessary actions to improve any legitimate areas of concern brought to light in the comments.
- If a comment depicts an untrue scenario, assertively and confidently clarify its inaccuracies. Additionally, paint an accurate picture of the situation to counter any negative impressions that may have been formed by reading the incorrect comment.
- Always express gratitude for positive feedback and use these comments as an opportunity to stimulate discussions about the benefits of working at your company.
Former staff expressing dissatisfaction with the organization
Prospective talent expressing grievances regarding the recruitment process
Accusations of intrusive monitoring and workplace bullying
Unfavourable comparisons with competitors
Suspicions of manufactured positive reviews
Respond to positive reviews
Claims made by employees
It’s worthwhile to follow the examples provided above.
From my perspective, I strongly recommend encouraging company employees to share accurate information about working conditions. Nothing will convince potential candidates more than the testimonies of actual employees. Even anonymous comments can be highly persuasive.
Removing a Review on Gowork Free of Charge: Reporting a Violation of the Terms of Service
Do you know that both Glassdoor and Gowork offer the possibility to remove comments that violate their service terms for free? Below, we present a step-by-step guide on how to remove a review violating the rules of the Glassdoor or Gowork platform free of charge.
According to paragraph 4, point 3, of Gowork’s terms of service, it is stated:
“It is not permissible to place or transmit via the service, including on the Forum or Blog, any text, graphic, or sound content that contradicts the law and social coexistence principles, incites racial, religious, or ethnic hatred, promotes violence, encourages crime, vulgar content, generally recognized as morally reprehensible, socially inappropriate, violating personal rights, unauthorized use of someone’s image, violating good manners and netiquette principles, and any actions that would subject the service to legal liability or could cause it harm.“
I contacted the Gowork portal to clarify this regulation snippet. I asked for an example of when a comment would be removed free of charge and when it wouldn’t. Gowork’s response was:
If someone writes that employees are being bullied, and this has never happened, such an opinion can be removed for free. If someone writes that the pay is low, this is an opinion and not a fact, and Gowork will not remove such posts.
A post will be removed, especially if it accuses the commission of a crime. Example: “ompany X does not pay its employees, does not pay taxes, does not pay social security contributions” (a statement of fact, not opinion)
Gowork will not remove a comment, however, if someone writes: I worked for two years and felt bullied (this is an opinion and not a statement of fact).
How to report a request for free removal of a post on Gowork?
- Go to the complaint form: https://www.gowork.pl/reklamacja
- Fill in the complaint form (example below), especially ensuring the correct completion of the two fields highlighted below. The example of arguing for post removal was proposed after I obtained information directly from the Gowork portal.
- Submit the form.
Boosting Your Company's Image on Gowork through Effective Responses to Negative Feedback
Previously, we discussed an example of an employer profile that remained passive in the face of negative comments. Now, let’s explore the profile of the same employer who decided to take proactive measures.
As depicted, the discussion now holds substantial information; there are no offensive comments, and you can peruse the entire page without discomfort. Such a transformation in the employer’s image is primarily a result of their active engagement. This involves responding to candidates’ queries and posting updates about the company’s activities. It’s an activity any employer can perform at no cost, and it’s exactly what I encourage you to do!
The Necessity of Anonymous Posts: Why is it Important?
Often, I encounter the notion that the anonymity of posts is the source of all troubles on platforms like Gowork and Glassdoor. However, there are several compelling reasons why anonymity remains vital:
- Employees might harbor fears about providing negative feedback concerning their employer. This apprehension pertains to both internal feedback mechanisms, such as direct communication with superiors, and public channels, including online platforms.
- Consequently, the absence of anonymous feedback significantly curtails employees’ ability to share their experiences and insights with their employers.
- Anonymity facilitates the discussion of particularly challenging topics that employees might face, which employers may be entirely oblivious to, such as bullying within the workplace.
- A majority of employers do not equip their employees with means for anonymous feedback, which positions platforms like Gowork and Glassdoor as unique spaces that guarantee the confidentiality of such viewpoints.
Protecting Your Company’s Reputation is Straightforward and Cost-free
In conclusion, by initiating some simple yet effective measures, you can enhance your company’s online profile for free, and observe tangible improvements within a few weeks. Here’s what you can do:
- Visit your company profile on portals like Gowork and Glassdoor, and take note of the comments posted there.
- Respond professionally to all reviews, whether they are positive or negative.
- Highlight the positive aspects of your company.
- Demonstrate a willingness to accept valid criticism with grace and dignity.
- Make use of the provided examples of responses to various types of feedback.
- Spark discussions on your company’s profile to promote a more substantive dialogue. Engage your employees in these discussions – after all, no one knows your company better than they do.
Remember, nurturing the reputation of your workplace is crucial – you dedicate a substantial portion of your life there!”
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How to Respond to Negative Anonymous Employee Reviews – a complete guide for employers, with real life examples and solutions.