should companies respond to Glassdoor reviews?

A reader writes:

Is it a good idea for employers to reply to Glassdoor reviews? I’ve never really thought there was much to be gained from replying publicly to positive or negative reviews. What’s causing me to reconsider is one we received that’s just not factual about our interview and rejection process. I’m wondering if you think we’d benefit from clarifying what happened or if we should just leave it be. If you think a reply would be a good idea, thoughts on the best way to respond?

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 160 comments… read them below }

  1. the elephant in the room*

    As an employee, I tried (unsuccessfully) to respond to a review of our company because it was totally false (in fact, we wind up with lots of false reviews right after someone is fired. Shocker). Transparency is great, but anyone with a lick of common sense should be taking really terrible reviews with a grain of salt.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      When I read any sort of review, whether it be for an employer or a restaurant, I look for themes and trends more than each individual review. Is there one Yelp/Glassdoor review that sounds like a poorly written rant from one irritable person among a couple dozen more positive reviews? Yeah I probably won’t believe it. Is there an even split of positive and negative reviews and all the negative reviews point towards micromanaging, poor work/life balance, and incompetent managers? Yeah I’ll probably hesitate towards applying. But you’re right; I do take all reviews with a grain of salt. Most people I feel like will write a review if things are either A) really great or B) really bad. A lot of people who just had an okay experience might not take the time.

      1. Solidus Pilcrow*

        I think trends are about the best strategy for any type of review analysis. All good? They’re probably manipulating the list somehow. Mostly good with a few bad mixed in? Odds are I’ll have a good experience. Mostly mediocre trending toward bad? Time to start worrying, go into it with eyes open and pay attention to flags. Mostly bad? Stay away.

        1. Artemesia*

          Lots of on line sites are Chinese and provide poor quality goods which may or may not arrive. I have gotten swindled by a couple where I purchased gifts that simply never came or came months after the order. They all have lots of reviews that look like they were written by the same person with a poor grasp of English. So cross referencing reviews is also important. Patterns are the key and of course attention to the details that matter. One hilarious bad review of a hotel complained that the reviewer was told to keep his rampaging toddlers quiet as they were disrupting people trying to sleep and the reviewer was outraged as ‘they had been in a car all day and were running off steam.’ He also complained that he had to pay for a lamp one of the charmers broke as ‘that should have been normal wear and tear.’ I booked the hotel.

          1. FuzzFrogs*

            I had to look for a hotel in Orlando last year and the reviews really exemplified that last point. There were plenty of positive reviews from people who were perfectly willing to sit through a timeshare presentation because it meant they saved hundreds of dollars on a week-long Disney trip…versus people who leave 1/5 reviews about the hours of the free buffet. The hotel I ended up booking had some reviews that mentioned that all-adult bookings were in a separate wing of the hotel from families–it was like I heard a heavenly chorus. What you can tolerate versus what others can is key!

        2. JulieCanCan*

          My old company has mostly l really bad Glassdoor reviews, all of which are true. Then on the SAME day, 5 glowing, incredible reviews were added – all with ALL CAP TITLES (which was bizarre) and all of which said essentially the same thing – about how “proud” each was to work at the company. Kind of funny.

          And most of the true, poor reviews mention how HR is now pressuring people to leave great reviews on Glassdoor and how HR will hover over people to make sure the reviews re decent. I keep in touch with a few people there and I know it’s true.

          Luckily anyone reading through the messages on GD can get the gist of what the place is like. I just feel sorry for anyone who decides to skip their due diligence!

    2. The Really Great are the ones you should look out for*

      I kind of disagree. aA my old Toxic Job, all of the reviews are glowingly positive.

      When I wrote a negative, factual one (that happened to be really terrible, because it was a really terrible place to work — sexism, late paychecks, nepotism, intimidation, threatening firing constantly, etc.), the owner sent me a cease and desist letter.

      I didn’t take my review down because it was anonymous and all factual, but I tend to be more skeptical of the extremely-positive ones than the extremely-negative ones.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          He probably guessed based on who had recently left the company. I’ve known people like that (although thankfully I haven’t worked for anyone that particular brand of toxic.) It only costs a stamp to send out a cease and desist letter, after all.

        2. The New Wanderer*

          It probably wasn’t only to The Really Great… but anyone and everyone that left the company recently.

      1. the elephant in the room*

        Ohh, that’s interesting (and terrible). We’ve never had any super glowing reviews. And our company is so small that personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving a review (which would be on the higher side of middling) because it would be so easy to figure out who it came from.

  2. Not Today Satan*

    I hate when employers respond to Glassdoor reviews, especially when they respond to every single one. Like you said, it comes across as, “Potential reviewers, we’re watching you!”

      1. Zona the Great*

        I actually follow, on Tripadvisor, a former boss I had who owned a B&B. His ridiculous replies to every negative reviews are hilarious to read and I hope he doesn’t stop soon. But no employer should strive to be like him. It was embarrassing even from afar.

      2. Wintermute*

        I think there’s a difference. Because TripAdvisor they are often providing context or correcting inaccurate accounts of events , I saw one which was basically, “by ‘scamming customers’ do you mean the 150 dollar cleaning/damage charge because you got drunk and vomited in the heater, as well as breaking the towel bar off the wall and denting the nightstand? Just so you know I didn’t charge you the full cost of the drywall repairs from your stupefied stumbling…” or “I’d like to point out that the 15% surcharge for groups of 5 or more is standard in the industry here and printed clearly on the menu, I know it can come as a bit of a shock to our European guests so we print it right on the front.”

        Another one I see commonly is basically “I apologize there was a waiting line, but you showed up an hour after your reservation time and we’d seated other customers rather than hold an empty table for an hour of our busiest time of the week.”

        But with employment reviews, because they’re not really going to post the details of HR matters and disciplinary actions, they can’t really give out the “truth behind the story” or their point of view, so it’s often just disagreement in general not a rebuttal.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      My current job has had a massive Glassdoor issue for a while now. Low ratings, bad reviews, almost all of them justified. I went to check the latest reviews the other day and was surprised to find the company’s responses added to every single one. All very chirpy and positive, all starting with the exact same copied and pasted text about how excellent the company is. For the good reviews, the responses basically said “Thank you for your good review!” and for the bad ones, something like “we are a great company to work for, we are saddened to hear that you had a bad experience, have you tried discussing it with your management?” It painted a very creepy picture. If I were applying to work here, seeing that would give me pause.

      1. Life is good*

        Or like my old dysfunctional company who replies “…….please contact HR with your concerns. We want to be sure you are taken care of”. Riiiight…taken care of how?

        1. Jennifleurs*

          Ha, this could be my company. Literally every review is “we did not receive any complaints about this from you, we would definitely have fixed this (systematic problem, caused by the owners’ attitude) using our grievance procedure which we tell all our staff about (nope)”

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I saw that line too in my employer’s responses. Which is ridiculous, because people do complain and the leadership does receive complaints. The employee survey numbers have been insanely low for the last few years. People provide comments as well, because this used to really be a great place to work and we were hoping there was a way back to that. This year, the response to the survey results was, first, to have a lot of meetings with the teams to basically chew them out for negative responses; next, we were told that the leadership had “committed to improving the numbers by X% this year” (at which point I personally gave up and was like, Okay I’ll give you guys your fake numbers next time if that’s what you want); and finally we all received an email saying that this year’s survey has been postponed, because the company is still processing the responses from last year’s. So it’s not like no one has ever said anything. It’s all out there in black and white with numbers. And yet the Glassdoor responses were along the lines of “well how are we supposed to know if you never tell us? We are not mind-readers” (in a much nicer and more corporate language, but you get the idea).

      2. BurnOutCandidate*

        You could be describing my company’s reviews on Glassdoor. Many legitimate issues, many unaddressed issues, none of them issues the company will budge on.

  3. Trish*

    I know I’ve put forward a tech issue about this before but lately every time I follow a link from here to the Inc. url it’s hosted on there’s a giant, unskippable, unpausable, audio ad with no possibility to adjust or end the volume. I’m sorry to bring that up here! I just want to make sure Alison is aware of it? Is it just me this is happening to?

    Also in response to the actual question posed:
    I’ve seen so many responses that are “we’re sorry you feel this way and are working to solve the problem.” All that tells me is that they don’t want the bad PR, and it makes me doubt very highly, especially when it’s review after review after review with the same complaint, spanning months-years. Unfortunately because of this, because I know for a fact that I’ve worked places that will have you spend time writing a glassdoor review (and of course they don’t tell you it has to be positive but come on. You’re doing it during work time, on your work computer. Who’s going to feel like they actually have freedom there?) I wouldn’t be very likely to believe a company that came in and said “this isn’t how we do things”. It’s not that I’d believe whatever anyone posted without questioning it at all, companies just have tried to manage their reviews to the extent that a clarification like that would be very unlikely to make an impact on me.

      1. Sharon*

        I also can only ever see one question/answer from you on INC – not the “4 others” – am I missing something?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Today’s column is just one answer. But for the ones where I reference “four other questions here,” yeah, you should be seeing five answers when you click over there.

        2. Wintermute*

          I find they when I’m not using adblock (sorry, I know it hurts your income but I’m not risking ANOTHER virus or malicious re-direct attack!) they’re often below the fold so to speak, under an ad that breaks up the text.

    1. epi*

      It happens to me too. For whatever reason, my ad blocker doesn’t prevent those either. If you use Firefox, the built-in reader view removes them. Looks more like reading an ebook.

      I agree with you about bad responses. I recently looked up a business on Yelp because I was curious if I was the only one having trouble getting in touch with them. They literally never answer their phone, and would try one time to call me back– if that. Turned out that for months they’d had someone responding to the most egregious complaints, apologizing and giving them alternate contact information. All that told me was they knew about the problem and still weren’t bothering to solve it– just to try to put on a good show online.

      1. ElspethGC*

        If you use Adblock Plus, you can block specific elements – that’s what I’ve done on Inc. I think there’s five or six individual elements that I’ve had to block that weren’t being flagged as ads. But once you’ve done it, ABP remembers and blocks them every time!

    2. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

      When you click into the tab (at least in Firefox) and you see the speaker icon on the tab, you can click the speaker icon itself to mute the tab or right click for the same option.

      1. Magenta*

        I’ve tried this several times and it doesn’t work, it just keeps blasting out stuff I’m not interested in. Autoplay should have ended with Myspace!

        1. Rectilinear Propagation*

          It seemed like for a while it had. A while ago advertisers were promising not to use dark patterns in hopes people would at least not block good ads and browsers started adding settings to prevent autoplay.

          The mobile browsers finally got good enough to provide a similar experience to desktop browsing and that was all over. They know people aren’t (can’t?) block ads on mobile so all the bad behavior is back.

    3. Tetrarch*

      I just don’t follow the Inc. links anymore because the ads are so bad, and I honestly think less of Alison for continuing to do business with them, given her stance on intrusive ads on this page.

    4. Amla*

      In Chrome, if you right-click on the tab you can choose ‘mute site’. It’s still irritating to have to, though!

    1. Zona the Great*

      I’ve never trusted a single review I’ve read except the ones that leave a star rating and nothing else.

    2. Kay*

      This! The HR department at my last job used to just contact Glassdoor whenever there was a bad review and it would be removed.

      1. Nopetty nope*

        My former boss actually had my account suspended after I posted a 1-star review. I received no explanation or notification from Glassdoor.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      Really? They make such a major point of saying that doesn’t happen: “Your trust is our top concern, so companies can’t alter or remove reviews.” If that’s not true, that puts a pretty big dent in their credibility

    4. Mazzy*

      Really? I keep overhearing my coworker talking about how annoying it is that we can’t get one removed even though we’re 100 percent sure the person was never even our employee (we never had that department, the person probably worked for a consultant of of ours and never in our office or directly with us, so they should have put it under their actual employer’s site).

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        Yep, my old company has systematically removed every negative review about them (PR firm).

    5. Workerbee*

      That would make a boss of mine happy. He tried to get bad reviews removed and they would not budge. Their rules cited that such things are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and the review would have to violate their Terms of Use and Community Guidelines.

    6. The New Wanderer*

      There may be a “premium member” component to this – I think that came up in another Glassdoor thread about companies that pay for extra promotional consideration or something.

      1. LurkieLoo*

        That’s probably exactly it. You can get them removed if you pay $$$$$$ towards an “advertising contract.”

  4. Où est la bibliothèque*

    The problem I see is that the reader is not really going to be inclined to believe one party over another unless the person replying from the company can point to some concrete evidence or at least confirm its existence.

    (Either, “this policy is included in our job postings, here is a link” or “all rejected applicants receive an email saying [X]”) A “no, that’s not true” isn’t going to carry any weight with a reader unless the person writing the negative review is hyperbolic enough to seem unreliable.

    1. KHB*

      I don’t know, I’ve definitely seen negative reviews with management replies on other sites (e.g. Tripadvisor) where neither party had any concrete evidence, but one definitely came across sounding more credible than the other.

      1. Holly*

        Same – as a customer searching for wedding vendors, I came across a venue that had a really negative review about how the venue was really rude, wouldn’t listen to the bride’s brother, and ruined the whole night. The venue rep *politely* responded in a matter-of-fact, not angry tone, and said that the bride’s brother had ideas to install bouncy castles (or something like that) the night before the day of the wedding and unfortunately it was too short notice and not allowable by their insurance, but next time they will make sure that this was communicated better in case there had been any misunderstandings.

        Do I know the exact situation? Is it a customer-said, company-said? Yes. But the company came off way more credible. I definitely did not come away with a negative impression of the venue.

      2. Hope*

        Yeah, sometimes you can tell on stuff like Tripadvisor when people complain about something that the management clearly warns or is up front about, like warning that if there is a unexpected weather event forecast during a walking tour, it may be cancelled and you’ll get your money back, and yet you will still see people losing their minds over their perfect vacation being completely ruined because a hurricane was bearing down on the location. Or activities clearly labeled as not for under a certain age and people complaining about how their very mature 8 year old really wanted to go skydiving and the company wouldn’t make an exception.

        1. Aleta*

          This is super true with restaurants, too. This was on Yelp, not TripAdvisor, but I remember one review of a Chinese place where a couple was absolutely AGHAST that they had to WAIT FOR A CART to come by so they could JUST GRAB THEIR OWN DUMLINGS, instead of a server taking their order and setting it down in front of them like GOD INTENDED. It was hilarious and I immediately sent it to all my friends. (If you’ve never had a proper dim sum, someone walks around with a cart full of dumplings and you just take whatever you want. It can get VERY competitive.)

          1. Aleta*

            (I should add, the server asked them if they were there for dim sum and they said yes, so they really had no excuse)

        2. Artemesia*

          I once rented a condo on St. John and the guest book included a two page diatribe by a woman on her honeymoon who was aghast at the terrible place. She had booked a wonderful resort suite, but the resort was shut down due to hurricane damage and they had relocated people with bookings here and there where there was availability. The rant was hilarious; they were an ‘upscale couple’ yadda yadda — like a fully imagined comic book stereotype of entitled gits. The resort was closed but they were entitled to the suite they had booked. FWIW the place was fine — not the seaside place they wanted, but those places were destroyed by the hurricane.

    2. Wintermute*

      This is a great point, but I think it’s important to note that with Tripadvisor or Angie’s List there’s no bar to correcting someone’s version of events. A restaurant is free to say “I’m sorry you had a negative experience but the truth is you were cut off because you were visibly intoxicated, became abusive towards the bar staff and waiter and were asked to leave, so I don’t think your accusation that we .”

      But an employer isn’t going to do that, most likely. A legal advice forum I contribute to just got a doozy of a post from a guy who was fired for sexual harassment (on a work trip he groped a female co-worker in the pool, quite aggressively). He mentioned he posted on Glassdoor that they “policed employees private lives” because he felt it was “off hours” so he shouldn’t be punished even though he assaulted a co-worker, because it was a work trip but they were back at the hotel, and that they “fired people for no reason, without warning, violated their own HR policies” because he thought they HAD to provide three strikes even if it was a criminal attack, and they wouldn’t.
      He posted asking how he could sue for wrongful termination to make them give him his job back, or get a lawyer to write a cease-and-desist forcing them to give him a good reference… he was clearly delusional and taking NO responsibility.

      His employer will probably just have to live with that review because they’re most likely not going to respond with the truth the way a contractor on angie’s list would be like “you asked us to change material from MDF to Oak, that’s why the price went up, we didn’t low-ball you on the estimate.”

  5. Delta Delta*

    I think it depends on the review(s) and the substance. If there seems to be a pervasive pattern of a particular issue raised in the various reviews, the company would be right to address that and maybe post one or two responses about how they’re now fixing the problem. If it’s something that seems really bizarre, depending on how bizarre it is, the review may speak for itself. I recently saw one – it was nestled in a list of fairly bland reviews – that was entitled something like, “I took the job for good experience and left with PTSD.” It went on and on and was totally unhinged, and didn’t seem to match the tone of any other reviews at all. There would be no reason to respond to that one. It seemed to speak for itself and since it was so out of left field relative to the other reviews, it seemed smart for the employer to just not touch that one.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, this is how I read them. I look for commonality. Also, if the company has more than one location, you can see a cluster of bad reviews about management in Podunk City, TX and the rest are average to good, which tells me I might want to work for them in Metro, CA rather than Podunk. Or maybe not, since they can’t get rid of a bad manager.

      If I see anything like the one you mentioned, it’s easy to assume this particular employee had some issues of their own.

    2. Antilles*

      Ironically, that’s pretty much how I handle *reading* Glassdoor reports (and similar stuff like Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc) – don’t focus too much on the specifics, but on the overall trend.
      One review of “the hours are absurd” in a sea of “it’s pretty standard” is probably just someone who doesn’t realize that consulting is not a 9-5 job. But five reviews of “the hours are absurd” probably does mean that the company’s expectations are out of line.

    3. Rhymetime*

      There’s a foundation that got slammed in Glassdoor reviews by many employees. It was part of a series of events (there was also legal action by employees) that got the board of directors’ attention, and it was widely covered in the media when they ousted the CEO and a high-level manager. While the foundation is now heading in a better direction, the leadership team knew the complaints were legitimate and didn’t counter them. They’re all still up on Glassdoor.

  6. Czhorat*

    Is anyone leery about posting to Glassdoor?

    I work in a fairly small industry, and suspect that anything I see on GD – either positive or negative – would be quite easy to trace to me. It’s really not worth any risk to my reputation to even “anonymously” make public statements about employers.

    That said, a flurry of similar negative reviews over a long period of time would give me cause for concern. A pattern of the company responding to them is even worse.

    1. GhostWriter*

      I’m leery about posting to Glassdoor too. I had two jobs that I would post negative reviews about, but I’d have to be pretty specific for the reviews to be useful, and if I’m being specific I might be identifiable and it could come back to bite me. I figure maybe I just need to wait a few years before posting so that I’m “forgotten,” but how many years should that be?

    2. Nicotene*

      This is actually exactly why companies think the reviews are “fake” – in similar circumstances, I’ve posted accurate reviews about my experience but I’ve played with timing (like, once I posted before I gave my notice, another time I posted like six months after I left) and threw a few obviously not-me signifiers into my review. So the company may be like “GOTCHA, there was only one programmer in data entry and she’s not a 36 year old man – must be fake!!!!!” So far, I don’t believe anybody has ever suspected me.

    3. Dance-y Reagan*

      Very leery. What I do is not rare, but having more than 2 or 3 people doing it at the same company IS rare. There’s not enough turnover or enough of a headcount to obfuscate me.

    4. Namelesscommentator*

      I’ve been blamed for a negative review before — every word was accurate, and I would co-sign it. But I told management directly in my exit interview rather than posting anonymously on the internet. But because I had been the most vocal, I was assumed to be the internet loudmouth.

      And if a company has 3+ negative reviews spanning years, all saying the same thing, run away.

      This was the job that expected us to share beds in hote rooms WITH COWORKERS WE MET THAT AFTERNOON.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        I got blamed by a coworker a couple years ago. I had a convo with some present and past employees in a certain dept about possibly posting some constructive criticism, for example “the only reason I left was there’s no advancement opportunities” or “this dept should get performance bonuses because…”. Those people must’ve spread the word around because suddenly there was a review that slammed the leadsership team and she then pointed the finger at me for the bad review. She was so righteous and indignant about it and then she ended up getting fired the following year and going to a competitor. To this day, I’m super paranoid about it and will never talk about gd or consider leaving a review unless I’ve already quit.

    5. Brogrammer*

      Yeah, my company is small enough (under 50 employees) and my role visible enough that if I were to write a review it would have to be either so vague as to not be helpful, or everyone at the company would know it was me.

    6. Antilles*

      I was slightly worried after leaving my last company since I had a somewhat negative review to post, but I mitigated that risk by waiting several months so when (if?) they see the review, I’m far enough in the rearview mirror that I’d already faded into the mass background of “people who used to be here”.
      As far as I know, it worked fine and nobody linked it to me.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Very leery. If I can figure out who wrote the review (and I sometimes can), then so can the leadership and HR.

    8. Shark Whisperer*

      I posted a negative review of my last job, but I wasn’t worried about it. It was pretty identifiable as me. There are only 4 people with my job title and I’m the only one who’s left in the past 2 years. I wasn’t worried about it coming back to bite me mostly because I didn’t have any issues with my direct manager or even grandboss. It was the C-Levels I was warning people about. I actually raved about my manager. The CEO is running the organization into the ground. There haven’t been layoffs yet, but positions aren’t being back filled, there’s been no budget for raises and benefits are starting to get cut. I feel like that’s important info for job candidates to know and it’s all factual. I also tried to write it in a very neutral tone.

    9. Rhymetime*

      I think this depends on the size of the staff where you work. I posted reviews on Glassdoor for two places where I worked because I was able to list my position anonymously and both places had a staff of hundreds of people. My comments were general enough that it’s not possible to figure out my identity. If my employer had a staff of only 15, that would have given me pause.

    10. Two Dog Night*

      Yup. I work for a small company, and I’m the only person here doing what I’m doing. Any review I left that was specific enough to be useful would out me in a second. HR was asking us to leave Glassdoor reviews a little while ago, and I wanted nothing to do with it.

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      When I left a very small company, I signed a severance agreement that said I couldn’t talk smack about the company, basically– pretty standard. I wanted so badly to post a review on Glassdoor, but I felt then, and I still feel, that the CEO would use it to come after me even if I posted anonymously. Then the “problem”, such as it was, solved itself, because a bunch of people posted horrible reviews that I would totally co-sign and it’s obvious it’s not me.

      This is the same company that asked us to post positive reviews on Glassdoor during my tenure there. Some of them were hilariously vague.

  7. GhostWriter*

    I appreciate when companies give more details in response to complaints about specific things like benefits.

    As an example, I recently saw a review that said, “The PTO sucks–you barely get any time off.”

    The company’s response was something like, “Thank you for your feedback. I wanted to address your concern about our PTO. Over the course of a year, our employees earn up to 14 vacation days and 2 personal days and get 5 holidays off. We feel this is a generous amount of time that not many employers in our industry provide.”

    That’s more, or equal to, PTO I’ve gotten in previous jobs, but from the review I would have assumed it was much less so the clarification was helpful. (Though the last sentence was annoying because I know people who work for employers that have much more generous PTO. I just want facts, not a company’s opinion about how great they are.)

      1. Antilles*

        Agreed. I don’t know if I’d call it sucks, but 14+2 is basically three weeks of PTO. That’s not “generous” by any definition, but it’s reasonably in line with the standards in a lot of US industries. Even if the allocation is something like “we start new employees with two weeks and then give you one extra day per year worked”, that’s still not particularly stingy in many industries.
        Ditto with the 5 holidays – I looked up the stats a few months back and can’t remember the exact percentages, but in US private industries, the breakdown is something like 80+% of people get 6 holidays (New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas), then the remaining federal holidays (MLK Day, President’s Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day) are observed by only like 20-30% of private companies. So they’re being slightly stingy by only giving 5, but not like wildly out of line.

        1. Arctic*

          Although they don’t give at least one of the major holidays off, which is pretty bad. But I don’t think anyone is saying it’s terrible just not “generous” as the comment states.

      2. RB*

        Based on the wording, the 14-days policy may include sick leave, in which case it’s a terrible policy. It also doesn’t say how many years you have to work there to have reached the 14 days/year level of vacation.

    1. KHB*

      It’s the “up to” part that raises my eyebrows. How long do you have to be working there to get the full 14 vacation days, and how many do you get each year in the meantime?

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        This. It looks like an answer, but it’s really not. Who earns 14 days? People who have worked there one year? Ten years? I mean, there are people at Mr. Shackelford’s employer who earn 15 vacation days a year, and there are people who earn zero. Knowing that it’s *possible* to earn 14 days doesn’t mean this reviewer was wrong.

        1. GhostWriter*

          I thought it meant that you earn x days for each y time period, which adds up to 14 days by the end of a year. (So if you started in June, you couldn’t get 14 days because you wouldn’t be able to earn that many in 6 months.)

          Not so sure now after seeing readers’ responses. I did have a job where you only got 5 vacation days your first year (and 10 thereafter), but I assumed that wasn’t common since I’d never heard of it before them.

          1. KHB*

            I’m admittedly going on limited data, but I always thought it was more common than not for longer-tenured employees to earn more vacation days. (Here, for example, you get 12 days your first year, 15 days for each of years 2 through 5, and 20 days after that.)

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Agree, 14 days plus 2 personal is more standard for new employees (say up to 2-3 years at the company) than for longer-tenured ones. “Up to 14” being the max you can ever earn sounds very low! They are hinting at it being generous for their industry, maybe their specific industry just happens to be very low on vacation days?

            2. GhostWriter*

              Sorry–I meant that 5 vacation days the first year seemed uncommon since I’ve never heard of anyone starting with so little before. I couldn’t use any of the 5 days until I’d been there for 6 months, and then I used it all up on doctor appointments and emergencies.

              Getting more vacation the longer you’re there makes sense because it’s an incentive to stay. Starting at 12 days seems nice!

              1. GhostWriter*

                (And I was saying it in reference to posters pointing out that “up to 14 days” might mean you didn’t get that many your first year, so they could have hypothetically started out with 5 like at my last company.)

              2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                I had exactly that when I started at my current job. It was brutal.

                I also had a job early in my career where you got no vacation or sick days for your entire first year, and two weeks total vacation and sick (IIRC) for the year after that. But I was new to corporate America, and assumed that it was normal.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I totally agree with the original reviewer—the PTO does suck, especially if you “earn up to 14 vacation days” (which suggests you can’t take vacation in your first year because of how it’s pegged to hours worked). And 5 holidays is pretty ungenerous, too.

      1. pleaset*

        The substance is bad. The answer is good. It’s straightforward. They’re cheap and they say it pretty clearly. So readers can take it as they wish.

        1. Someone Else*

          Yeah, the company’s response is useful. Someone posting “x sucks” leaves a lot to the imagination. The company coming back to say x = actual number is a great use of company replying. To some people, it will confirm that yes, x sucks there. To others, they’ll think “meh that’s kinda average” and others will think “that’s totally fine with me”. But it contains actual information, not just puffery. They may have a crappy PTO policy, but they have a useful person responding to reviews.

          1. KHB*

            Except they didn’t say “x = actual number” – they said “x is less than or equal to actual number.” Which is consistent with “x sucks” for all values of “sucks.”

    3. leela*

      I want to throw out there, not sure if it’s the case here or not, that earning x days doesn’t mean the company will let you take x days off. I’ve had loads of use-it-or-lose-it PTO that the company absolutely would NOT let me use whenever I needed to. It didn’t matter how many days I got on paper if I’m not actually allowed to ever *use* them

    4. Stranger than fiction*

      That one employee could have had a manager that made it difficult for them to use it or something like that.
      Every time I start to brag about how great the time off here is, I pause and remember there’s a dept upstairs where it’s very hard for them to be out due to the nature of what they do.

    5. Kat in VA*

      I’ve seen complaints on GD about the time off at my company – you get 25 days at the beginning of every year, 14 paid holidays, AND 40 hours of volunteer PTO.

      “PTO is meh”, “PTO is stingy”…like…dang, really?

      Sure, it’s use it or lose it (except in California) but it seems generous to me.

      Opinions, and all that.

      1. You Go Glen Coco*

        Hard numbers are important, since it’s all very relative. I was just looking at the Glassdoor for a company where almost every review complained about the low salaries. But when I got the range for the position I’m interested in, it’s 20-30% higher than what I currently make at a job with more responsibility and less staff support. Seems like a good salary from where I sit…

  8. Bigglesworth*

    I think employers should respond if there seems to be a pattern in the reviews. For example, I recently interviewed at a nonprofit and decided to look up their glassdoor ratings on a whim. The reviews are fairly split between positive and negative, but there are two pervasive themes throughout almost of the reviews. First, there is no path for entry-level candidates to get promoted. You have to come in at a higher level to be able to move around or leave and come back. This, in turn, has caused high turnover of the younger staff members. Second, there seems to be a split in objectives between the head honchos and those who are the boots on the ground. This split also seems to have contributed to the turnover rate. I’m definitely giving this some thought, because these seem to be patterns in the company and I can’t help but wonder if the company is aware of these issues or doing anything about them.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        That’s very true! I wish I had done that with my last job, but that was my first office job after graduation and I wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth after working retail and food service for two years.

      2. Nicotene*

        I have mixed feelings about this one. Someone just did it at my org in an interview I was sitting in on, and it came across as a little hostile the way they put it. My ED seemed a little surprised and irked to be asked to defend the org against an anonymous complaint that she hadn’t even heard before. I think with a little more finesse there would have been a way to get the info without making her feel wrong-footed, but I’m not sure that moment played in the candidates favor.

        1. Ali G*

          Yeah they did it wrong. You shouldn’t say “I read on Glassdoor that there isn’t any upward mobility for entry-level employees – is that true?” Instead you should ask “What is a typical career progression for someone starting out in this role?” Or “how long does someone typically stay in this role and what do they go on to do next?”
          The answers can give you a sense if this is a dead-end position, without coming across as combative (or believing everything you read on the internet).

          1. Bigglesworth*

            Oh goodness yes! That person did it very much the wrong way. I like the way Ali G phrases it. Because the interview was for a clerkship position, it is inherently temporary. However, when I talk to the interviewer, I’ll probably phrase like, “Have you seen clerk’s in this role continue on to have a successful career at [organization]?” or something like that.

          2. SierraSkiing*

            Good point! And for the other concern about differences in priorities, as you talk with different people, try to ask both “What are the goals for the X program area/department for this next year?” and “What does a typical day’s work look like?” and see if there’s some cognitive dissonance there.

      3. anonymoushiker*

        I did this today and in the first, I didn’t finesse it as well as i would have liked (it was a management style concern with significant themes over several years). I’m not sure I could have gotten a good answer without referencing the fact that there are negative glassdoor reviews. But for the second, I was able to address the question in a different way without referencing the reviews and it definitely went better. (to be clear, these are for 2 separate interviews I had today)

  9. anon today and tomorrow*

    I once wrote a Glassdoor review complaining about the interview process and the company replied saying my review was false.

    When I had the phone interview, I was told it would be two rounds of phone interviews, a written test, two in-person interviews, a separate in-person presentation, and a final round of a mock client roleplay. That’s a long, intense interview process, and that’s what I was told by the company. I withdrew from consideration based on this, and the company was pretty snooty with me about it.

    When I wrote all that out on GD, the comment from the company was, “This is not how our interview process works. We have an in-depth process to determine the best candidate, but this is an exaggeration of our process”

    Sure enough, a former coworker was also contacted by that company and was told to expect the same interview process I was given.

    Which leads me to believe that most companies are just going to defend their reputation, so all company responses should be taken with a grain of salt. Especially the “We’re looking to change this based on your feedback!” comments – there was one company where people kept complaining about the same aspect for years, and all management feedback kept saying they were looking to change.

    1. GhostWriter*

      A canned esponse (like your “We’re looking to change this based on your feedback” example) is worse than no response to me. If there’s no response, that doesn’t really indicate anything because I don’t see many companies responding anyway, but a canned response would make me assume they are aware of the problem and don’t actually plan to do anything about it, but are fine with lying to make themselves look better.

      1. irene adler*

        Or there’s a deeply entrenched culture there that no one is able to change or improve. The company representative makes statements indicating that they are “looking to change” but clearly nothing does. Big negative in my book.

    2. Stranger than fiction*

      That’s so annoying! Too bad you can’t attach pics to reviews, like a snapshot of a HR person’s email (with your name blurred out) or something, to prove you’re not lying.

  10. JoAnna*

    I recently applied for a job with a local entertainment company. I was called for an interview, and the Glassdoor reviews (click on my name for the link) gave me pause – as did the company’s responses. They ended up cancelling the interview due to plans to “restructure” their department, and I was rather relieved.

    1. Frank Doyle*

      Yeah, it’s the company’s response to those postings that are the most telling. You definitely dodged a bullet!

    2. Can’t eat sandwiches*

      Yikes. Defensive much? Plus at least 1 response was partially cut and pasted from another (the company said that the claims of high turnover were false, even though that reviewer never said anything about turnover). Though I am loving these for the entertainment value!

      1. The Vulture*

        Really gotta appreciate how one of them says “please post a lengthy rebuke showing how disrespectful you are”
        and they were like “…we’re not going to post a lengthy rebuke as you requested”…30 paragraphs more…

        Also, is it just me or all the fake reviews with “Come looking to work hard!” “Only the best thrive here!” “if you lie about your abilities, you’ll be fired!” etc is just like…such a red flag. They can’t even make their positive reviews sound like a stable place where you’ll be trusted like, ok, thanks that still sounds horrible tho

    3. Lynne879*

      Ahhhhh the reviews literally say that the company should treat its employees with more respect & then the company immediately becomes disrespectful with some of those responses.

    4. Antilles*

      I actually think the more telling thing is the first response: “Advice to management: More chocolate in the dish.”
      Like…seriously? There’s a line of 6 straight negative reviews, then there’s a five-star review whose ONLY complaint is that they should spend an extra $10 a year on a bag of M&M’s? Come on guys, if you’re going to fake a review you could at least *attempt* to make it seem legit.

      1. Elizabeth Proctor*

        So many of the 5-star cons, too, are, “We’re expected to work really hard, think out of the box…”

      2. epi*

        Those couldn’t be more obviously fake, right down to the condescending and rude pros and cons implying that only certain types of people are fit to work there. How embarrassing for them.

      3. Lance*

        Never mind the fact that every single one is in full PR mode. Are they just functionally incapable of dropping business-speak, ‘look at us and how great we are’ platitudes and just being human? Because an actual, human response (that doesn’t include yammering on about the company’s history, and vision, and literally everything else about them) would convince me a whole lot more than… whatever these are.

    5. Can’t eat sandwiches*

      Also, the “Presdient” keeps using [sic] incorrectly.

      That place sounds like a horror show.

      1. Frozen Ginger*

        Former employee: “Please respond with a lengthy rebuke to this review so you can cement in everyone’s mind the disrespect that you show your employees and the inadequacies that you proudly flaunt as your business capsizes under your feet.”
        PR: “While we will not provide a “lengthy rebuke” as you have requested, we can comment on your posting:” [proceeds to leave its longest response yet]

    6. Chameleon*

      Ugh, the one where they responded to a fairly bland negative review by going all Secret Squirrel and figuring out who posted it, and publically discussed their PIP…even if everything about that employee was correct, there is no way I’d want to work for a company that thought that was appropriate.

      1. Jadelyn*

        THIS! My gods, who thinks sharing details about someone’s termination in a public forum is appropriate? And that’s assuming they even have the right person, which…who knows, the whole point is those things are at least nominally anonymous. (Try saying that ten times fast!) My jaw literally dropped. You could treat me like a king, and I still wouldn’t want to work for you, if you think it’s cool to air that kind of dirty laundry publicly!

    7. Stranger than fiction*

      Thanks for sharing! You did the right thing.
      Sounds like a bunch of Jr high students run this place.

      1. JoAnna*

        I probably would have done the interview, just for the experience, but I would have asked several direct questions about the negative reviews, the company culture, the time off, etc.

    8. Woodswoman*

      Wow, those reviews were quite a read. The fact that they think their belittling and insulting responses actually make them look better confirms that the criticisms from former employees are legit. Good for you for escaping having to work at such an awful place.

    9. Bowserkitty*

      Yiiiikes bullet dodged indeed!!!

      My favorite is the one where they start out by saying they won’t write a “lengthy rebuke” as requested by the reviewer…and yet they still write a lengthy response.

    10. Esme Squalor*

      I’m late to this thread, but hoooly cow, what a trainwreck. Reading the company replies to all these Glassdoor reviews would send me screaming into the night if I were considering working here. Every single company reply reinforces and confirms the dysfunction and lack of professionalism the reviewers are describing, and those obviously fake 5-star reviews just make me cringe. It’s abundantly clear this company doesn’t have a clue what constitutes appropriate workplace behavior.

  11. Wild Bluebell*

    I actually like it when companied respond to Glassdoor reviews – good or bad. It makes it look like they care about their employees’ experiences in their company.
    Of course, to make a good impression the responses have to be non-defensive and not sound like a sales pitch.

      1. ragazza*

        Agreed. My company responds to most reviews (except the really bad ones that mention sexual harassment etc) and just says something basic like, “We work hard to provide an environment that is a, b, and c.” So not really addressing the issues at all, even when there’s a pattern of criticism

    1. epi*

      I think it really depends what they are saying and how. Like some other commenters, I’ve seen repeated responses about the same issue that is obviously persisting– that is worse than no response at all. It says they’ve known about the problem for a long time and aren’t actually fixing it. However, I also see good ones from business owners on Yelp where they do try to make it right and succeed in getting the person to update their review. I take those seriously.

      I haven’t experienced it, but my husband’s company has been guilty of trying to encourage employees to post positive reviews, and of having their HR people post a couple of (very poorly disguised) positive reviews pretending to be from rank and file employees. Maybe it’s naive of me, but when I see companies using the response feature intended for them, it makes me think that at least they are managing their reputation the right way rather than submitting false reviews.

      1. irene adler*

        It certainly makes me wonder about motive when there are a slew of glowing GD reviews posted over a very short time period (say 3-4 days). And, they all incorporate similar statements or phrases.

  12. Arctic*

    Much like Yelp I think employers/owners take Glassdoor too seriously. Most people aren’t reading every review and believing every word. They are looking at the overall score and consensus.

  13. female peter gibbons*

    I think it’s so funny when companies defend themselves by saying “Don’t read the negative reviews. Those reviews are always false.”

    Um, negative reviews are written by disgruntled employees. So they’re probably true. Who is having fun writing negative reviews about a company that they actually loved working for or admire from afar? LOL. The logic doesn’t track. If someone is writing something bad about a company there is a reason. The negative review existing is enough evidence that someone’s unhappy with that company for whatever reason.

    1. KHB*

      “Whatever reason” isn’t always a legitimate reason, though. I always get a kick out of the negative restaurant and hotel reviews that say, basically, “I tried to leave without paying the bill and they wouldn’t let me.” They have their equivalent in the world of employer reviews. Some people (not all negative reviewers, but some) just don’t like to be held to their end of a bargain, whether it’s as a customer or an employee.

    2. Elsajeni*

      Well, sure, but I don’t think that’s what anyone means by “negative reviews are false” — they mean they’re written by people who are disgruntled for non-legit reasons, like someone who did crappy work and then got outraged when they weren’t promoted, or by people who are disgruntled enough that they see everything that happened at the company in a negative light, or even mad enough to outright make stuff up to make the company look bad.

    3. female peter gibbons*

      I believe the onus is on a company to treat people well. Treat people well/with respect/adults you might not have so many negative reviews to deal with. Of course a few are possible, but definitely not a third of them or more.

  14. TooTiredToThink*

    I’m not very familiar with glassdoor (I’ve just never needed to be) but what I do is look at the 2 star reviews to find what the actual issues are (usually in book reviews or retail reviews; etc…). They usually have the issues pointed out without all the extra exaggerated drama. I also look at the range of reviews. If there are half 1 star and half 5 star reviews then I know that there is a QA issue of some sort. Etc.. But there have been many times when I have fully believed that the 1 star review was made up that I have decided to not shop that business/product/etc due to the way that the business responds. Leave emotion out of it. Don’t be defensive. If the person is lying, don’t call them a liar.

  15. California Ltd.*

    I’m the person who responds to Glassdoor, Yelp, and other reviews at my company, so this discussion has been fascinating to me.

    I do try to respond to every review, but might rethink that based on what I’ve read here. We don’t get many reviews, so answering isn’t a huge issue. At my company, I always loop in those critiqued in the review to get information before responding, which probably wouldn’t happen with more volume. But I don’t want to scare people off from posting. The reviews are very helpful and provide good feedback to the organization.

    Thanks for the insight, everyone.

      1. California Ltd.*

        I’d say it’s less policy and more direction. The patterns are very helpful and revealing. Definitely more of a long game about how and where we need to improve. They carry across platforms, too. We see similar feedback whether it’s Glassdoor, Yelp, Google or Facebook, which is very telling. Takes a long time to get a ship to change direction though.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Do you do exit interviews? I ask because we use our exit interviews to get this kind of direction/pattern analysis, and the bonus to that is they’re private.

    1. LQ*

      Similar to irene’s question, has a glassdoor review every called out an issue that the company was otherwise unaware of and then addressed because of glass door that wouldn’t have been otherwise called out and addressed?

  16. jcarnall*

    There’s an autoplay video, with sound, in the corner of the Inc screen. As soon as it started playing – I didn’t see any way to shut it down – I closed the tab.Does the Inc site always have these voiceover vids? Is there any way to close the vid down? I’d like to read Alison’s column, but absolutely not if it means being lectured simultaneously by a talking ad.

    1. Michaela Westen*

      I had to mute my computer to shut it up.
      If it was anything other than AAM, I would have closed the tab instantly.
      Intrusive ads like that are so disrespectful! No regard for whether I *want* it talking at me. I don’t get a choice, I’m just a living ATM they’re trying to pluck money from.
      Don’t the people in charge of ads have normal human feelings? How do they feel when they’re treated like this? How do they not understand this offends and drives away the people they’re trying to market to?

  17. Bookworm*

    As a consumer reading these reviews (either Glassdoor or Yelp) I also look for trends. Does it seem like the reviews are very similar or closely bunched together chronologically? If it’s Yelp, how many reviews has that person written and are they all 5 stars or 1 star?

    Unless it’s something “actionable” (like the bathroom will be fixed) or something mundane like that, it seems like a lot of responses are very “corporate speak” and unhelpful in actually addressing whatever the reviewer is addressing. It’s worth seeing if there are negative patterns you can address internally, but I also agree that responding to the review can be dicey.

    And honestly, those sites are for potential employees or customers rather than for the employers. If you can learn from them, please do and that’s great. But if you want to settle scores or not actually address whatever it is (if it’s false, it’s false) then maybe not. And do you even know for certain if it’s false? There’s always a chance you don’t know what happened to that person.

  18. Formerlawyer*

    I used to work at a law firm where the two managing partners were pure evil and everyone was miserable. So of course there were many negative glassdoor reviews. One day one of the partners demanded that we all post positive five star reviews. A few attorneys did, but most of us refused. The partner forgot about it a week later and focused on some new way to torture us so that was the end of it.
    And now that I no longer work there, I often think about posting an honest review and mentioning the post a positive review instruction. But it would likely be traced to me and the partners would be happy to file a bunch of frivolous lawsuits against me so nah.

  19. Workerbee*

    Thought it might be helpful to cite a previous comment I had about Glassdoor accuracy.

    And I see now that I never saw Lillie Lane’s question. Sorry, Lillie!

    Paraphrasing her question: “I have noticed lately that there have been a number of recent terrible reviews (say, all from September 2018). All of these terrible reviews are rated as very helpful. However, one older 5-star review (from, say, August 2018) continues to stay in the first review position (right below the “featured review”). This 5-star review has no “helpful” ratings. Can employers pay to have specific reviews hang around the top, first-seen position?”

    When I was handling it, I could only choose a single review to feature at the top, and had no control over the order of the others. Seems a little odd to have that older review in the first position beneath, with no ratings.

    I did try to make sure a balanced review was pinned to the top, one that had both pros and cons that were fair.

  20. Anon bc work*

    My company responds to every negative review on Glassdoor with some version of “We’re sorry that you didn’t enjoy your experience at our company…but you’re wrong and the problem is you, not us.” FTR, all of the negative reviews have a common theme, and after working here, I agree with them. I can understand clarifying something that is factually wrong, but don’t post passive aggressive responses to every negative review.

  21. marmalade*

    I have a question about editing Glassdoor reviews!
    So, you can only edit reviews in the 30 days after you post them – but I wrote a review a year or so ago that I’d really like to amend. Should I delete it, and then repost the new version? Is that allowed/will it be accepted?

  22. Calmeye*

    How do you respond in a way that’s not defensive?

    One recent review we got was from an employee who said she had been working at our company for years, but a manager (me) stopped rostering her suddenly.

    The real story is she kept missing shifts; her available hours kept changing weekly; then asked me to change everyone else’s hours last minute to suit her own personal schedule. I tried to accommodate her for several weeks before telling her “Please sort out your childcare schedule, I’ll let you have your preferred hours for one month and after that I can’t just give you the exact hours you want.” Her situation didn’t change and there was no way we could keep giving her XYZ shifts (which were totally different to the hours she was originally hired to work; and was inconveniencing other staff and affecting business operations).

    Every mental response to her negative review is irritated and defensive.

  23. Leigh*

    My previous company had awful reviews for good reasons. Then the owner found out and FORCED current employees to write positive ones. All the negative ones, for a small amount of time, had this “FAKE NEWS!!!” style comments from the company (99% sure the owner would be an admirer of the Fake News trend and its propagator), but then were replaced with the most gaslighting but professional comments.

    You can see the pattern where the owner is called out specifically in multiple negative reviews and the positive reviews are squeaky clean repeating the same phrases and a few disparaging the other comments for not “getting it” or “fitting the culture”.

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