columnist Alison Green answers questions about workplace and management issues--everything from how to deal with a micromanaging boss to how to talk to someone on your team about body odor.

A reader asks:

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?

Green responds:

Glassdoor does encourage employers to respond to reviews that employees and applicants leave of them. But a lot of employers do it really poorly: They reply to critical reviews with canned, inauthentic sounding pablum (or worse, defensiveness), or they reply to positive reviews with such chirpy marketing-speak that it casts doubt on the authenticity of the positive reviews on the page. In those cases, they'd be better off not responding at all.

Some companies also weigh in on every single review, which is also a bad idea. It comes across as saying "we don't trust employees and applicants to talk about us amongst themselves; we feel we need to manage the discussion." Since most people who use Glassdoor aren't looking for the company's party line but rather for real people's experiences, it comes across as tone-deaf...and tone-deaf in a way that's likely to raise the hackles of anyone who's ever worked in an environment where people's thoughts and opinions were too closely monitored.

All that said, in your case, you have a situation where an applicant has outright falsified her version of events. (Note: The letter-writer sent me the review in question, as well as correspondence with the applicant that clearly disproves her version of events.) So there's an argument for a short, dispassionate response correcting the record. The key, though, is to do it without sounding defensive. One way to do that is by not focusing the bulk of your reply on the fact that the reviewer is wrong, but instead on "here's how we handle these issues; here's what we strive for and why." That's information that people reading the site are more likely to appreciate, and you'll look better if you sound calm rather than angry.

And, of course, write it in a way that sounds like a real person and not like a statement that HR carefully constructed to deflect criticism. People looking for insiders' perspectives on your company aren't looking for press releases or corporate statements, or anything that sounds like those. You'll have more credibility if you sound like a real human.

In general, though, employers are typically better off not trying to respond to every critique on Glassdoor. Instead, use it as a useful source of data on what your employees really think--and if you don't like what you read, don't shoot the messenger. Instead, take it as a sign that your organization might have some issues to work on internally.

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