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Can You Always Trust Employer Reviews?

Published: Friday 19th July 2019

More instances are coming to light in the media of employees who say that the companies they work for are instructing them to write positive reviews on the likes of Glassdoor UK. If this is the case, then, understandably, some candidates are questioning if employer reviews can be trusted to give an accurate portrayal of what it’s actually like to work at certain firms?

After all, what reviewer, while still working at a company, would leave a bad review of their employer, when it could affect their chances of progression, or even lead to unfair dismissal. While not illegal, the practice isn’t entirely ethical and could lead to potential candidates getting an unrealistic perception of a firm while carrying out a company check on a potential employer.

Online Employer Reviews. Evaluation time for a review

Companies playing unfairly

One recruitment firm, Insight Global, has already been exposed for allegedly forcing employees to write positive reviews in order to reinforce their employer branding. A reviewer there, while giving the firm a five-star review, reveals in the text that he was coerced to write the review.

Glassdoor UK said that they remove any content that they feel was written under coercion and a spokesperson added that it was rare that employees were forced to write reviews. Nevertheless, we were able to find other instances where employees have said anonymously that they were asked to write positive reviews about the companies they work for. In one case, an employee at Jobillico said that employees had been asked by management to write positive reviews on Glassdoor. The company actually responded by stating that they actively seek ‘feedback by team members’.

Boss reprimanding an employee in an office

Being deceptive isn’t good for employer branding or staff morale

There are ways in which the likes of Glassdoor UK can identify which companies might be using employer reviews to their advantage. One way of doing this is by looking for ‘unnatural’ peaks in positive reviews, many of which use the same phrases, such as ‘awesome place to work’. So, encouraging employees to post reviews that may not be truthful can backfire, not only in terms of bad media coverage but by demoralising staff who feel that doing so is unethical.

Ethical unethical concept comparison for moral behavior

Can an employee face disciplinary action for posting a negative review?

While, legally, an employer can’t fire a member of staff for posting a negative review of the firm they work for, in practice, that doesn’t mean the employee’s work-life won’t be unaffected. Unless the post is completely anonymous, it could lead to the employee being viewed unfairly when it comes to promotion, for example.

While positive employer reviews can certainly work to the advantage of an organisation’s brand, it’s not ethical if workers have been instructed what to write in those reviews. And, if found out, the resulting media coverage could have a very detrimental effect on the company’s brand and image. After all, if a company is willing to involve employees in an unethical practice such as this, candidates could be forgiven for wondering, what else they might be asked to do. And who wants to work for a company like that?

At Zoek, we carry out background checks on all the companies we work with to ensure they operate ethically, so start your job search with us today.

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