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The Small Business Glassdoor Guide – and How to Get Authentically Good Reviews

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

I've been fielding a lot of questions lately on how to approach Glassdoor. It usually starts with, "My CEO wants us to have a strategy."

So I'll ask, why now? Are you seeing a lot of negative activity on Glassdoor that's "inspiring" the CEO to form a strategy? Or is this truly just out of the blue? What is the desired end outcome?

Many startups, scaleups, and small businesses want to use employee reviews as a marketing and recruiting tool. Unfortunately, often the thing that prompts this is the sudden appearance of a negative review.

Especially if you're just starting out and even if you've already spent time gathering reviews, you'll want a strategy, a plan, and to avoid any mistakes that could have the opposite effect of what you're going for – enthusiastic employees willingly sharing praise.

Prompt leadership to complete the "Ideal Glassdoor Review" benchmarking exercise

One of the first things I do with my consulting clients is to have them complete a writing exercise: brainstorm what they wished their employees would write about their company on Glassdoor.

Once they've written it, I ask them to reflect on how closely they feel this mirrors the current work environment, so they can then use it as a guide for driving changes.

When it comes from the CEO, suddenly they are a lot quicker to fund and prioritize the needed changes. It's a quick, easy activity that always seemed to really hit home with founders.

Glassdoor Best Practices

  1. If your morale and engagement are not sound currently, spend time benchmarking and following through on culture improvements, it might take a few months before you feel much more confident in making the ask.

  2. If you feel like morale and engagement are sound, be super transparent with the ask.

  3. Craft a neutral message. Stay away from encouraging a certain type or tone of review.

  4. Don't "gamify" it by offering gift cards, raffles, or other incentives, because then it feels like a bribe.

  5. Choose whether to present the ask to the whole company in the All-hands once a quarter, at a smaller team meeting, or reach out to a handful of individuals once a month.

  6. Address responses for both positive and negative reviews.

How to make the ask

If you feel like you've made strides in your company culture and you've got employees who are engaged, be super transparent in how you approach the ask.

Whether you decide to communicate it to the team or a couple of individuals who you know are big fans of working for you, you could say,

"We're looking at creative ways to increase the diversity, quantity, and quality of people who apply for our open roles. One thing we know is helpful is having accurate portrayals of what it's like to work here on Glassdoor, as it helps us attract people who are seeking out the type of culture we've built. If you're open to leaving a review, we would truly appreciate it!"

Respond to negative reviews with grace

It looks conspicuously awkward to only respond to positive reviews, so budget the staff time necessary for reputation management. If during your campaign journey, you discover that your employees are leaving constructive criticism, use it as an opportunity to practice how you respond to feedback gracefully as a company, and how urgently you prioritize and resolve the issues the employee has identified.

Don't expect that you'll get all the perfect reviews. In fact, it looks much more honest to see that businesses are transparent about their growing pains and addressing workplace culture.

What not to do

Let's recap what NOT to do, so you aren't creating a PR nightmare by mistake.

  1. Don't incentivize or bribe employees. Avoid offering monetary rewards or other incentives in exchange for positive Glassdoor reviews, as this can compromise the authenticity and honesty of the feedback received.

  2. Avoid pressuring or coercing employees. It should go without saying that you can't ask them explicitly to leave a positive review. Employees should feel free to share their genuine experiences without fear of retribution or negative consequences.

  3. Don't manipulate or edit reviews. Resist the temptation to manipulate or edit employee reviews to portray the company in a more favorable light. Choose to use the quotes for your website, verbatim from Glassdoor.

  4. Don't neglect negative feedback. Acknowledge and address negative reviews instead of ignoring or dismissing them. Respond professionally and constructively to show that the company takes feedback seriously and is committed to improvement.

Why do you even need a Glassdoor strategy?

  1. Employer branding. Help shape a positive employer brand, making the company more attractive to potential candidates.

  2. Talent acquisition. Attract top talent, increasing the chances of hiring skilled individuals who align with the company's values and goals.

  3. Retention and employee satisfaction. Addressing issues and actively working towards improvement demonstrates that the company values its employees' opinions, fostering a positive work environment and increasing employee satisfaction.

  4. Competitor analysis. Understand the competition's employer reputation to refine your company's own strategy and stand out in the job market.

  5. Employee advocacy. Authentically happy employees are more likely to leave a positive review and share the company's open positions with their networks.

  6. Continuous improvement. By responding to feedback, you can identify areas of improvement. This feedback loop can drive continuous growth and development within the company, leading to higher employee engagement and overall success.

An intentionally-planned Glassdoor strategy can help attract top talent, retain employees, understand competitors, and enhance the company's overall reputation. Embracing transparency and using feedback constructively can lead to a more engaged workforce and a stronger position in the job market.

We talk about all things company culture on the Want to Work There podcast. Subscribe today and start building better workplaces, together.

Five yellow stars sit on a pink and blue background. If you want your employees to give you good Glassdoor reviews, you've got to set them up to want to leave one. Learn how.

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