The importance of online reviews and how to improve them

In this first instalment of the managing your employer reputation blog series, we take a look at how vital online reviews are and how to take steps to improve them. 

Most consumers will now turn to online reviews before making a significant purchase – like a holiday, or car. Such is the importance of online reviews, this phenomenon has now transcended into less important financial decisions like the restaurant we decide to eat at, and even the books we read or the podcasts we listen to.

What can we learn from this? When it comes to making a choice that is considered important, people are more likely to seek out affirmation and insight from their peers as opposed to biased information from the business themselves – they rely on word-of-mouth and don’t want to hear businesses blowing their own trumpet!

According to Glassdoor, most people read on average 6 reviews of a business before applying for a role there, which really shows how much prospective employees value brand strength. If you’re not already convinced that managing your online reputation should be a priority, then this blog series probably isn’t for you!

Careful curation of your online reputation can be a galling task – just one negative review can repel potential employees. The more negative reviews acquired means it becomes harder to redeem your reputation, attract the best talent out there and ensure your business thrives.

But where to start? First, you need to perform an employer reputation audit, so you can put a marker down and assess the current state of your channels. Put a spreadsheet together and visit the following websites:

  • Indeed
  • Glassdoor
  • Fairygodboss
  • Work Advisor

Take some time to read through your reviews from the last 18 months. Identify some themes and use that to inform your long-term strategy.

If you haven’t already; claim your business on the review websites.

You’ll usually be presented with the option to claim the employer page upon inspection. This task is critical if you feel the need to respond, as a representative of your business, to your reviews. Claiming the page also means you can add accurate and up to date information, add photographs, employee perks, mission statements, values and any other information you feel prospective employees need to know about. Be aware that reviews can be written by employees regardless of page ownership, so claiming it ensures you have at least some measure of control.

Once you’ve claimed your page, you can schedule some time in your diary to respond to new reviews and work through the backlog of historical reviews, if necessary. You might not want to respond to all the good reviews, they speak for themselves, however; addressing particularly negative reviews should be a priority. If you decide to respond, its important to keep a cool head; thank them for their feedback, briefly address the concern and provide contact details should they want to contact you directly. Responding to negative shows prospective employees that you value their feedback and take concerns seriously, but; the key is not to attract poor reviews, something we’ll cover in the next point.

To ensure you have the best chance of curating positive reviews from employees, you need to create a culture of feedback within the business. This directive should come from you, if you’re the HR representative, but it should permeate down to hiring managers and department heads. Ensure employees can provide discreet feedback and when individuals offer up ideas and/or criticisms, and make steps to address them – nip it in the bud before they come negative, permanent online reviews.

We now know that employee reviews are becoming a significant part of the hiring process, and it can be an element which can tip the balance in your favour if you get it right. If you’re the designated person to foster and protect your employers online reputation, follow this series and you can begin to attract top-quality applicants too.

The next installment: Managing your Glassdoor reputation

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