6 Ways to Turn Disgruntled Employees Into Happy Ones (and Improve Your\u00a0Employer Brand)

In a time when angry customers can cripple a company with bad online reviews, “workplace transparency” sites have become powerbrokers in the world of job hunting. The popularity of Glassdoor, which lists more than 900,000 employers and 49 million employer reviews, is proof that job seekers put a premium on how companies treat their employees.

These platforms are now a go-to source for job seekers not just to learn about a company’s culture, salaries and benefits but also to read detailed reviews from both happy and dissatisfied employees. Negative reviews can devastate a company, not only by making it hard to attract good talent but also by damaging its reputation with clients, colleagues, the industry and the community.

Here are some steps employers can take to improve employee satisfaction — and reduce the odds of receiving negative online reviews.

Create a Culture of Honesty, Transparency and Trust

Employees value honesty, even when the truth is not positive. For instance, most employees would rather their boss tell them that there will not be any raises this year than to promise them a raise and then break that promise. In addition to being honest with employees, managers should let them know — by their actions, not just words printed in an employee handbook — that they can speak their minds, even it means lodging a complaint or admitting a mistake, without fear of retaliation. This culture will promote mutual trust.

Don’t Play Favorites

Nothing can ensure a disgruntled employee — and a scathing Glassdoor review — like a boss who has a favorite. Whether it’s overt or implied, employees will pick up on the fact that a manager has a “favorite employee” who can do no wrong. This dynamic will foster resentment and anger, not to mention low morale.

Lead by example. Be sure that rules and policies apply to everyone and that praise and compliments are distributed to all who are deserving.

Look for — and Address — Workplace Disharmony

Harmony in the workplace doesn’t necessarily mean that employees must be best friends, but it does mean teamwork, mutual respect and support, and collaboration. It means no gossip, passive-aggressiveness, power struggles or cliques. Managers should check in with employees regularly and, if they discover or sense that something is amiss, address it quickly and fairly.

Conduct Employee Surveys

Survey employees anonymously so nobody feels pressured, and ask real questions that will garner answers that can help you support employees and the business. Be prepared to help managers take steps to make improvements where necessary. There are few things worse than asking employees for feedback and then doing nothing with it.

Once you’ve addressed concerns, made the appropriate improvements and communicated those changes, and you feel confident that the company is better than it was before, ask a few employees to consider writing a review on Glassdoor or a similar site. Be sure not to pressure, goad or hint at what you’d like them to say.

Conduct Useful Exit Interviews

Employees who are moving on are often more apt to be forthcoming about what they liked and disliked about working for the company. Listen carefully to their ideas and suggestions for improvement. Consider engaging an outside firm to conduct the exit interview to help employees feel they can share information anonymously. If you choose to make changes based on feedback, consider telling employees. Then, they will know that the company takes feedback seriously and is committed to taking action.

Respond to Reviews

Responding publicly to reviews on Glassdoor and other sites demonstrates to job seekers that the company’s leaders are committed to ensuring worker satisfaction. Address both positive and negative reviews fairly. Even if a negative review is unfounded or erroneous, thank the person for the input, and offer to discuss the issue offline. Provide a name and email address for the individual to contact. If the negative comment is legitimate, acknowledge that you are aware of these concerns and that you are addressing them. Always tell reviewers that you appreciate their input.

Though these recommendations may seem like common sense, they’re sometimes put on the back burner as employers work to grow their businesses, serve clients and satisfy customers. Establishing a culture of openness and trust will not only improve employee retention and productivity, but it will likely have an effect on what people say about you to their friends, connections and social networks. In some cases, those employer/employee relationships will determine whether or not your company’s products and services are recommended by your employees and others.

Remember: Happy employees are key to a successful company. Taking these steps will go a long way toward ensuring happy employees — and positive Glassdoor reviews.

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