Glassdoor, the website described as “Yelp for workplaces,” claims that eighty-three percent (83%) of job seekers in the United States read its reviews. For the uninitiated, Glassdoor is a website where anonymous employees and former employees comment on a company’s workplace – sharing information on topics such as salary levels, workplace policies, office politics, and much more.
This statistic should encourage business leaders to familiarize themselves with their organization’s current Glassdoor profile. In an increasingly competitive labor market, human resource professionals should understand that negative Glassdoor reviews could adversely impact recruiting. Moreover, negative reviews can have other harmful impacts such as spooking investors or damaging brand value.
If your organization has negative reviews on the site, it may be worthwhile to respond. However, proceed carefully to avoid legal liability or further damaging your brand. Seek input from others and perhaps legal counsel prior to responding to make sure you are not sharing information that should not be made public. You may also encourage other employees who have had a good experience with the company to share their experiences. However, do not coerce an employee to do so or make it a condition of their employment.
Employers must be careful not to take any action that would violate Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which guarantees employees the right to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment without fear of interference. Glassdoor posts, depending on the information, could certainly be considered protected activity under the NLRA. Therefore, any conduct directed to an employee posting on the site would violate the NLRA.
From a legal standpoint, there is not much that you can do to remove negative reviews. The site screens content to weed out offensive or confidential information, but often times the information posted is blatantly false. In the case of false information, employers can flag reviews and seek to have them removed by Glassdoor staff. You can also respond by correcting the information (i.e., posting correct and updated salary information).
One way to potentially avoid negative reviews is to include non-disparagement provisions in your employment agreements, severance agreements, and/or handbooks. A reminder that non-disparagement agreements must have a carve out for activity protected under Section 7 of the NLRA. Although these provisions can be difficult to enforce and Glassdoor reviews are often anonymous, employees will think twice before posting anything if they have fear of legal action.