update: I wrote a Glassdoor review and the employer is losing their minds

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer who wrote a Glassdoor review and their former employer was losing their minds? Here’s the update.

I just wanted to say thank you for publishing my letter. I really appreciate it, as well as the advice you gave and the commenters.

I didn’t write the Glassdoor and Indeed reviews out of malice or ill will, I wrote it because this company is genuinely challenging to work with. In my original letter I didn’t even disclose other more ridiculous things that happened at that workplace, such as the fact that leadership would disclose to their employee “inner circle” things they definitely should NOT disclose, such as which employees were on PIPs (!) and even topics like which employees were struggling with things like marriage issues. The company’s leadership has also been vindictive to people who have left the company on platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, directly asking them why they left and interrogating them with questions like “you think you’re too good for us now?” (which is something I was a direct recipient of when I left). I swear, it’s like a soap opera. My spouse and I used to joke that it was like Days Of Our Lives. It’s a shame because I loved the work that I did there but the drama and immaturity of the leadership was too much and the lack of opportunities for advancement led to me to seek other employment. I feel like it was such an unprofessional workplace. In hindsight, it was a good career “stepping stone” but I am in a MUCH better place now. I don’t even know how that place still functions, and given how transparent the leadership is on social media (a friend sent me a screenshot from the CEO, who made a post the other day on a social media platform about how much she hates being a CEO!!!) it seems like the workplace is hanging on by a thread anyway.

Thank you and the commenters for the reassuring words regarding that I didn’t do anything wrong, and rather that my previous employer’s antics regarding the witch hunt were wrong. I had multiple moments where I was seriously considering contacting those services to take the review down or delete the review, but I’m holding firm — the review is staying up.

While I still do feel a little bit weird that my reviews caused some internal chaos, the positive that’s come out of this is that many of my friends who worked there have had enough. The witch hunt was the final straw of a bale of hay that was already breaking the camel’s back. Four out of the five friends that have worked directly with me have received new positions elsewhere AND have left their own reviews of the company, with similar commentary. The remaining one is somewhat holding out for a leadership position — one whose job description she even wrote! — although leadership has repeatedly told her that they’re not going to promote her because they do not feel that she is qualified to lead. We’re all going to be working with her later this week to spruce up her resume, tidy up her LinkedIn, and take her out for a “you can do this!!” brunch so she can hit the job market.

Again, I appreciate the kind words and advice!

{ 32 comments… read them below }

  1. Mostly Managing*

    I love the idea of a “you can do this” brunch.
    It’s so kind to be supporting your friend that way.

    I hope she hears you, and agrees. It can be hard to leave a bad situation – work or other relationship – and it’s so important that she knows she has friends to lean on.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      Yes, I love how they’re throwing a life line to their friend, to pull them off that sinking raft. That job must have done a number on the friend’s psyche, for her to keep believing she’ll get promoted even when being told that she will not.

  2. Certaintroublemaker*

    Classic workplace full of bees! I’m so happy OP and friends are working together to support their friend to get out.

  3. Database Developer Dude*

    Please come back and update us once that last friend has finally seen the light and left for greener pastures! I want to celebrate her vicariously!

  4. Bluz*

    You’re a great friend in helping your friend get out of a toxic environment. Why in the world would she want to be part of the leadership team when it’s so dysfunctional? I guess it’s like that frog in boiling water analogy. She’s been in that environment so long she doesn’t know she’s “boiling” and needs to get out. Wishing your friend much luck on the job search.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      She probably thinks she could make a difference if she were in leadership. After all, change can only come from the top. However, at a place this messed up, one person, newly promoted, would not be able to effect the kind of total change that’s needed. “If you don’t like it, leave,” is very much not a change mentality. More like the mentality of a totalitarian state.

      In a way, it could even be worse if she got that promotion: “Now I’m in leadership and I feel responsible that I’m still not able to make things change. Must try harder!” She’s getting sucked deeper in the tarpit – she needs to get out while she still can.

      1. Artemesia*

        When they tell you they don’t see you as a leader and won’t promote you but you stay hoping for promotion, there is something weird going on. Sometimes you have no choice, but apparently others have found jobs in the area. Hope this person wakes up and realizes that ‘we are not going to promote you’ is as clear a message as you could ever get from your boss.

    2. Rainbow*

      Well you never know; I have friends at my old workplace that was also full of bees, who can’t necessarily go elsewhere because they have families/kids in school, but want to make the best of what they have. So one of them is going for a leadership position. I feel he may not get it not because he’s but great, but because they only appoint leaders who are also full of bees in that place. Humans with their heads screwed on don’t get a look in. However I wish him all the best.

    3. Loose Socks*

      I stayed with a previous company solely for the promotion so that I can use the title to get a better job elsewhere.

  5. 2 Cents*

    As someone who is reading all of the Glassdoor and Indeed reviews of workplaces, thank you for not taking yours down! It’s hard to spot the beehives from the outside, but well-written insider looks like yours help!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Agreed. If you’re so inclined to ask in an interview about what’s in those reviews, the answers can tell you a lot.

  6. Mimmy*

    I love that you all are helping your friend try to get out of what sounds like a very toxic environment. Best of luck to all of you!

  7. Observer*

    If you needed any confirmation that the problem was not you but them, I think you have it.


    But I’m glad that you and some of your friends are out of there, and that you are helping the other one as well.

  8. Bookworm*

    Good for you, OP! I left a Glassdoor review for my former employer and AFAIK it did not cause internal chaos (not like yours!) but did result in one visible change that I know of. The person who led the organization left within the last year and while I absolutely do not claim any credit for it, I do think the other negative reviews might have gotten someone’s attention (even if only job seekers, whoops).

    Glassdoor should be taken with a grain of salt but it is also one of the few outlets employees have, so¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Good for you, OP. Hope your friend escapes soon, too.

  9. Generic Name*

    I went back and read the original letter. I found the line where management says, “If you don’t like it here, leave” hilarious. The OP didn’t like it there, so they did indeed leave! I think management at dysfunctional companies often don’t think that employees will ever leave. I know that management was shocked when I resigned my last job. The HR director even said she thought I’d stay forever. Even though I was visibly angry at how a work situation was handed to the point where my then boss called me into a meeting to discuss my happiness while also telling me that I needed to move on from my anger at the incident. I told him that I would “move on” and had another job a few months later. I’m sure he didn’t mean “move on” in that way. Ha ha

    1. BigLawEx*

      I once worked in a place where everyone was ‘shocked Pikachu face’ when I left. “Why?” I was asked when I gave notice. “Everyone stays here forever. We never even fire anyone!”

      All the problems in those two sentences.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        When you can’t afford a six month gap in health insurance, though, sometimes you have to stay. (sigh).

  10. Former employee*

    I wrote a Glassdoor review for a place that let me go. (I couldn’t do my job because they wpould not spend the money to give me either the proper tools or personnel needed.) The company was not a nice place to work on multiple levels with senior management making big money while they treated the workforce badly. After I left, they got a lot of publicity over firing an employee who expressed a political view (different than management’s) outside of work. I waited more than a year and wrote a very general negative review to avoid being identified. My bad review joined many others. One by one the negative reviews were replaced with glowing positive reviews that had to be manufactured by the company; there was no way people could like working there that much because pay was bad and management treated the workers badly. I lost faith in Glassdoor reviews after that.

  11. Peter*

    Thanks for the update.

    As a by the by re Glassdoor, I have two former employers who now seem to reply to every single Glassdoor review with the most generic platitudes and HR speak possible, mostly a copy/paste of their last reply. Specific criticisms aren’t addressed at all and it looks so tone deaf. A review that says something like “My team worked 6o hour weeks all the time and it was still never enough” will at best get something like “At ABC Corp we think work/life balance is important and helps everyone achieve their full potential”. I can’t understand how they think this will reassure anyone who reads the reviews.

    1. Nethwen*

      One possibility is that the person writing the responses has very specific directions about what they can and cannot say. Given the unenviable task of writing in defense of a company that they know deserves the criticism, they only thing they can do while still keeping their job is to copy and paste slogans from company documents.

      1. Peter*

        I think that’s probably it. But I think saying nothing would be better than posting such weak rebuttals.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          But a) they were probably told to do that, and/or b) they know it will make the company look stupid and they’re ok with that.

  12. Typing All The Time*

    Thanks for the update. I wrote a Glassdoor review for a former major retail company that let me and my work colleagues ago after reopening in late 2020. It wasn’t out of spite but based upon past treatment by management, pertaining to an onsite injury. It seems now that HR replies to every posting but I could see from other postings that my issues were similar and not just in my head.

  13. chewingle*

    How many conveniently-after-employee-left-for-new-job bad reviews do you think it took before they realized it likely wasn’t a current employee?

  14. Lurker*

    Good for you on holding firm on your review! Honest reviews are important for job seekers to avoid bad jobs/managers. A friend of mine had a bad experience at their last HR job and wanted to leave a review on Glassdoor, but the company was small enough that she knew everyone would immediately know it was her so she couldn’t.

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