Company Ratings on Social Media Should you Trust Them

Company Ratings on Social Media Should you Trust Them

For job prospects, social media sites such as Glassdoor and CareerBliss have become go-to places for company reviews. How much should you trust the company ratings on these sites? Our analysis shows not much. In this blog, HCG research consultant, Izabela Widlak, reveals what she uncovered.

In the case of concerning reviews about your organization or its practices, investigate the reported problem and its root causes.  While few negative comments in the midst of positive reviews aren’t likely to do much harm, many negative comments may indicate that there is a greater problem that has to be repaired. For example, repeating comments about lack of opportunities for development may indicate that a company should invest more in training, on-the-job developmental opportunities, or mentoring and coaching.  While negative reviews indicate there may be a problem, they are unsubstantiated claims and do not necessarily provide an indication of how widespread the problem is likely to be. Have a qualified talent management practitioner conduct a full-blown assessment. Analyses of this type are especially worthwhile when the organization has challenges with hiring or retaining high-performing employees.  When claims are carefully investigated and addressed, it becomes the best measure to prevent negative feedback in the future, as well as increase organizational effectiveness. One option is to openly share on the company’s career site how the company is addressing concerns highlighted by ex-employees. More often than note candidates will appreciate the transparency believe the company is trustworthy.

In the quest to learn from bad reviews, don’t forget to learn from the positive ones. Affirmative or unexpected positive reviews can be flattering, but more importantly, they may allow the organization to learn about its strengths and about the aspects of the employment brand that have been valued by employees.  Again, communicate this on your careers site.

Good and Bad Reviews are Indicative of Issues Needing Attention

Recent work in developing our Talent Acquisition course led me to research how companies manage their social media presence.  What I uncovered was shocking but sadly true.  Sites such as Glassdoor, CareerBliss, and, provide employees and ex-employees an online venue to publicly vent about their employer. With just the click of a mouse job prospects and employees can gain access to a plethora of information including salary ranges, interview questions, and insider information on what it’s like to work for the organization. Unlike in our parent’s generation, a job candidate can simply avoid bad employers by paying attention to these ratings.  So how accurate are such social media reviews and ratings?  Let’s find out.

While researching how companies manage publicly available information that might affect their image as a great place to work, I was in for a surprise.  My research led me to reports by former employees complaining about their well-written negative reviews being taken off Glassdoor.  Some even reported seeing an influx of positive reviews and ratings within a short period of time which immediately increased the overall rating.  My curiosity intensified, as I dug a little further I learned about companies in the business of so-called “reputation management”.  They claim they can help find loopholes on these social media sites and can remove or minimize the impact of potentially damaging information.  I also read about a case where a large retailer encouraged its employees to share positive stories about the organization on Glassdoor.  This apparently backfired and is speculated to have instead led to a flooding of negative stories.

As Industrial-Organizational psychologists we are concerned both with the effectiveness of practices organizations pursue and their effects on employees. Our analysis shows organizations stand to lose more than gain by manipulating their online ratings.  Potential job candidates are best served when they have honest and truthful information about the job and the company before they accept a job offer.  This ensures that candidates accept offers based on fit, which ultimately contributes to greater engagement, higher retention, and better financial outcomes for the organization.  Based on this perspective, it is hard to imagine why organizations might pursue any of the practices described above.  To help organizations manage their employer brands here are some evidence-based recommendations.


Be Authentic

Be authentic in how you handle the information that is out there about the company.  Many potential job applicants tend to read the reviews with the grain of salt anyway and they do notice when positive reviews are contradictory to most other reviews. Therefore do not ask current employees to write positive reviews and do not write fake positive reviews to offset the negative feedback.  Such actions are more likely to backfire and do more harm than good.

Be aware that some job candidates may inquire about the negative reviews during the hiring process.  Therefore, be ready to honestly address questions and explain how the company is managing the issue.   In fact, it is a good practice to allow job candidates an opportunity to ask hiring managers ‘clarifying’ questions.  Studies show that such practices improve perceptions of trustworthiness.

Invest in Evidence-based Integrated Talent Management Practices

While some solutions have appealing short-term gains, only evidence-based practices can drive long-term value.  When organizations invest in high-performance work practices, such as the use of formal job analysis, pay for performance, pay for skill acquisition, training, and performance management there are resulting gains in individual performance and financial success of the organization. This in turn makes the organization a good company to work for and is likely to drive favorable online reviews.

Use Employer Profiles to Manage the Organization’s Online Presence

Creating an employer brand that is centered around the company’s culture is easier than manipulating online reviews and ratings.  Multiple social networking sites allow doing this for free.  One of the most credible is the professional networking site, LinkedIn, where company news and activities can be shared with active and passive candidate pools.  Additionally, Websites such as Glassdoor allow creating a free employer profile where companies have full control over the information shared. A strong community of employees that lives by the values of the organization can attract other great employees and also customers.

In conclusion, learning from current reviews, being authentic, investing in high-impact evidence-based practices, and using social media to engage employees, is more likely to create and sustain an excellent employer brand than any other short-term fixes that some companies are apparently resorting to.

Building a high-performing organization and a great employer brand is an ongoing process and takes time.  However, it is something that organizations need to embrace to realize great benefits.


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