Do you know your Glassdoor rating?

If you're like 54 percent of the 300 professionals surveyed in Jibe's 2016 State of Employer Branding report, the answer is no. And this is a huge problem if you plan on hiring anytime soon.

"In my previous, in-house employer brand roles at GEICO and CEB, I would hear from recruiters and talent acquisition leaders that interviews, as well as offers, were being declined because of what candidates read on Glassdoor," said Shannon Smedstad, principal employer brand strategist at exaqueo.

To avoid this situation, stay on top of your employer brand--your reputation with former and current employees. But rather than cursing employees who leave negative reviews on career sites or social media, you should really be thanking them.

I recently spoke with Jay Baer, author of Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers, on this very topic. According to Baer--who coined the phrase "hug your haters" in reference to customer relations--his advice can be applied to a company's employer brand. In fact, it should be.

So, take a page from Baer's book, and hug haters of your employer brand.

Here are three reasons to do it:

1. Put out fires.

A single bad review from a former or current employee is all it takes to deter job seekers from applying for an open position at your company. According to Baer, there's no such thing as an isolated incident--not when it comes to your employer brand. After all, where there's smoke, there's fire.

'Haters' of your employer brand deserve a bear hug for this one. After all, they're bringing to your attention an internal issue that might have been overlooked otherwise.

How to do it: The best way to put out a fire is to act fast, lest you miss out on top talent.

To easily monitor your employer brand online, set up Google Alerts for your company name, as well as your CEO's name. This will help bring any negative reviews to your attention a lot faster, so you can then address the issue in timely manner.

2. Learn from your mistakes.

"Realize that a five-star review doesn't teach you anything," says Baer. "Praise is the most overrated thing in business. Because in almost every case, we already know what we're good at."

Other than make you feel good, praise doesn't get you anywhere. Constructive feedback, on the other hand, challenges you to be better.

How to do it: View negative employee reviews as an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve the overall employee experience. Stacy Donovan Zapar, founder of Tenfold, had a client who did just that.

Zapar's client thanked the individual for taking the time to share their feedback, acknowledged the problem, let the individual know the issue would be addressed, and took the conversation beyond Glassdoor, offering to meet face-to-face.

Jennifer Jones Newbill, director of employment brand at Dell, follows a similar model when addressing feedback from employees online:

"We always thank people for taking the time to share their views. We validate that their feedback is important and helpful to us in order to improve. We also try and validate--either good or otherwise--some aspect of their review."

3. Improve your overall reputation.

While your employer brand is geared toward prospective and current employees, it can also impact the way customers view your company. As Baer pointed out in our interview, "...at some level, customer experience and employee experience are two sides of the same coin."

How to do it: In order to improve both your employee and customer reputation, keep what Baer calls a "Hatrix" to document damaging reviews to your employer brand and how those were addressed.

Jessica Steinberg, director of recruitment marketing and employment brand at CDK Global, LLC, follows a similar method by conducting a deep analysis of employee reviews in an effort to identify common themes.

They then use data gleaned from reviews to inform their responses. At CDK Global, they even have their own version of a Hatrix called a "Pains-to-Gains report." Lastly, they share each review with the team that's impacted.

In the end, Zapar put it best:

"Negative reviews aren't a Glassdoor issue; they're an indication of a company issue. And responding to the review and addressing the problem directly is always the best strategy. It speaks volumes about the company and the executive leadership."

So, whether it's constructive feedback or well-deserved praise, be sure to respond to all reviews received on career sites and social media. Doing so will help you maintain an active presence online and improve how others--employees and customers alike--view your company.

What are some other reasons to hug haters of your employer brand? Join the discussion in the comments below.

Published on: Apr 24, 2017