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As a consumer, how much of your purchasing decision is influenced by both the positive and negative reviews of others?

Without a doubt, the internet has globally connected people in more ways than we ever thought possible, and online reviews now have the power to make or break an establishment, drive a product to the first page of an Amazon search, and even expose the inner realities of a company’s culture. 

With the Great Resignation still underway, more and more companies are drawing the connections between their current hiring efforts and their online reputation. 

So what happens when you have one or more negative reviews come from your employees? How can you properly respond to this?

Let’s uncover the reasons why negative employee reviews happen, the impact of negative reviews on employer brands, and the best way to respond to negative employee reviews. 

Why Negative Employee Reviews Happen

Just as a negative consumer review can be motivated by a myriad of reasons, there is no one answer as to why an employee feels the need to display their negative experience. 

The first step in handling a bad review from an employee is to consider why it happened in the first place. Avoid seeing yourself and/or the organization as the innocent victim and instead try to utilize an objective mindset.  

Many workers who leave bad reviews feel wronged by the company they worked for, and a negative review is one way of expressing their distaste, warning other prospective employees, or getting in the last word after leaving the organization.

Whatever the intent, a negative review indicates a fault of communication prior to that point. This can fall under unclear expectations, inability to voice concerns, or simply a surprise decision by upper management that led to an employee’s departure. Poor communication is often a big reason why people feel upset with their employers.  

How Negative Reviews Impact Your Brand 

This should come at no surprise to you-  critical former employee reviews can leave a troubling stain on your company brand. In fact 

  • 86% of prospective employees turn to employee review sites before deciding where to apply for a job, 
  • 50% of candidates say they aren’t interested in working for a company with a bad reputation, regardless of compensation.

With so many employers focusing on attracting top candidates today, demonstrating a reputable culture is more important than ever. 

Responding to Negative Employee Reviews

Now for some good news. No matter how nefarious a former employee’s review may seem, simply responding can begin to steer things in the right direction.

In fact,

  • 62 % of job seekers say they think more highly of a company that responds to employee reviews
  • 75 % are more likely to apply for a job at a company where the employer responds to reviews.

Here’s how to tackle the task tactfully…

  1. Get All of the Facts

More often than not, negative reviews include more than just opinions, and if you find that an employee is making incriminating claims against your company, it’s crucial that you don’t disregard it. Even if the allegation turns out to be false, the incident still deserves -and sometimes legally requires – an internal investigation. (Contact us if this is the case)

Some situations may require more than a quick scan of past performance review questions, so be sure to contact the proper authorities as needed.

  1. Respond Promptly and Calmly

It’s best to be prompt when responding to a negative review on an employer review site, however, rushing into a response is an equally bad idea.

Immediately reacting in the heat of the moment can potentially backfire, escalating the situation. Instead, establish a daily routine to monitor employee reviews, create a plan of action to ensure dependable composure, then take a day or to strategically formulate a response. 


  1. Specitificy Is Your Best Friend 

We see framed, generic responses all over the internet, and honestly, these impersonal replies counteract the purpose entirely. When responding to unhappy employees, specificity is your best friend. Precision demonstrates that you are sincere in your response, and this can go a long way to calm any angered emotions.  

Take time, evaluate, and consider each point made in the review, then address those concerns thoroughly and thoughtfully. Avoid any legal risks by choosing your words carefully.

  1. Show Your Gratitude

Keep in mind that employee feedback has been shown to both drive performance and boost leadership effectiveness, and leaders who ask for feedback are more effective in their roles. 

 Former employees who may have previously felt silenced will appreciate the fact you’re trying to make right by them. Furthermore, prospective employees will see your good attitude in the face of negative feedback.

  1. Take the Conversation Offline

While publicly responding to negative reviews can be beneficial, there are some significant drawbacks to consider. 

There could be legal and PR risks associated with a public exchange with an upset employee, or the issue may involve sensitive information that would make it inappropriate to discuss openly, so it’s best to take the conversation offline after offering a brief response. Invite the employee to discuss the matter further with an HR representative rather than engaging in further online discussion.

  1. Look Within

Finally, it’s always a good idea to think about how to prevent further bad reviews from happening. If a poor review points to problem areas in your organization, consider what steps you would need to take in order to resolve them for other employees. 

Of course, not all issues are able to be resolved, and it’s necessary to weigh business objectives against the time, effort, and resources it might take to fix something major or minor. However, simply acknowledging issues with transparency can go a long way to keep employees from feeling their only outlet for complaint is a review site.   

One Review At a Time

Professionally responding to negative employee reviews is not an easy thing to accomplish, but when it’s done with sincerity and a thoughtful approach, the lasting impression can provide overall benefit to companies managing their employer brand. 

With a bit of strategy and planning, a negative employee review could be a helpful way to show past, present, and future employees that you’re listening and eager to improve. 

Not sure how or where to start? Consider utilizing the help of a trusted business advisor. The right individuals have demonstrated industry-wide experience to improve how you respond to negative feedback while enhancing your company reputation for prospective employees. 

At MCDA CCG, we have helped numerous businesses come back from the worst of former employee statements, helping to make amends on the outside and strengthen the culture from within.

Whether you have one negative review, a few, or they far outweigh the positive, we recommend that you give our office -headquartered in Placentia, Orange County, California – a call today. In this call, you will speak with one of our employee experts to see how our solutions can successfully address your specific needs, ensuring that you can competitively attract current and future talent.

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