Recently, not one but two former employees of Yelp took to the blogging site Medium to share their employment stories.

The first came from an employee who wrote an open letter to Yelp's CEO outlining in dramatic detail her personal challenges living in San Francisco and trying to survive on her low salary. She was fired that same day.

The second is from a single mother who was fired after taking off three unpaid days of leave to be by her boyfriend's side in the hospital after an accident. She also outlines in detail a less than flattering view of working for Yelp.

Two sides to every story... but employers rarely come out the winner.

There is a raging, public online media war against corporate America right now. Especially, during these months leading up to the presidential election. Which means, even if the stories told by these employees are one-sided and filled with personal bias, no matter how much Yelp tries to share its side of the story, they'll still be marked as an employer with issues. One blog post could have been viewed as a random occurrence, but two in as many weeks? That signals to readers they've got legit employer problems.

Why your company could be the next victim of employer shaming.

Companies like Uber (where customers and drivers publicly rate each other) and Glassdoor (a site that lets employees post anonymous ratings about employers) are teaching the next generation of workers they have a right to rate their employment experience with a company. Add the lure of the attention and support from peers that employees might receive for airing their grievances online, and suddenly, you have the real possibility your company could be the next victim of employer shaming. We are already seeing proof ex-employees can successfully sabotage a former employer.

Offer outside resources to help employees cope.

The lesson learned from Yelp's employee PR disaster is that companies should provide employees a way to work through their challenges privately, or you could be at risk of them doing something desperate, dramatic, and very public. An example would be offering private coaching as a wellness benefit. Unlike traditional mentor or buddy programs, the coaching is done with outside advisors who aren't required to report back to the employer, providing a safe place for the employee to open up and seek advice that can help them survive and thrive in their role. While internal mentoring programs can help with assimilation into a corporate culture, because the mentors work for the company, studies show employees will often fail to share deeper concerns for fear of getting in trouble for voicing them. 

Don't be the next employer scandal online.

Employer shaming is very real, and will likely grow in popularity as a way to build employer accountability. To avoid being on the receiving end of this negative publicity, companies need to start paying serious attention to how they can ensure employees feel satisfied with their employee-employer relationship, or suffer the consequences.

Published on: Mar 3, 2016