Addressing Negative Online Reviews From Disgruntled Former Employees

Use Bad Online Reviews as a Learning Opportunity

It is not uncommon for former employees or staff to vent their frustrations in the form of an online review. Before reacting to these situations from an emotional place, address these matters in a more productive manner.

The best ways to address negative online reviews from former employees are to:

Put a Policy and Protocol in Place

Any company with an online presence should have a firm policy in place related to addressing negative online reviews. This makes it much easier later to respond in these situations without allowing emotion to come into play.

The policy should encourage responses that:

  1. Listen to the feedback provided
  2. Offer a solution
  3. Defend the company in a way that is informative, but does not come off as defensive.

Some negative online reviews contain information that is simply not true. If this is the case, rather than taking an accusatory stance towards the review, offer links to content that proves why the feedback is untrue.  

For example, if a former employee claims that 401k matching was not offered as a benefit, respond by including a link to a web page that summarizes all employee benefits. You may also state that employees do in fact receive employer matching on their 401ks.  

Use a Bad Review as a Learning Opportunity

Before writing off the review as retaliatory, get to the bottom of the issue raised. Use a bad review as a learning opportunity and explore the root of the complaint before responding.

Engage key stakeholders who worked alongside the former employee to gain a better understanding of what situations occurred that resulted in such a reaction.

Be Direct With a Public Response to the Review

Seeing that they have made the decision to publicly criticize your organization, your team can take this as an opportunity to show the public that you are open minded.

A public response also displays that as an organization you welcome all criticism and have solutions in place for such issues.

Turn Lemons Into Lemonade

Use a negative review as an opportunity to laud a business’s positive aspects, features, and qualities. Address and apologize for the not-so-good. Additionally, highlight what makes the company special and emphasize the good.

Be Direct With a Public Response to Negative Online Reviews

Flag the Review for Removal

If the review is unfair or inaccurate, flag it for removal. Depending on the platform posting the review, it can be difficult to have bad reviews removed.

However, flagging it is the fastest and most effective way to bring the negative review to the moderator’s attention. If the review is slanderous or obviously written out of spite, the moderator should recognize this and may choose to remove it.

Maintain a Professional and Positive Attitude

Above all, stay positive when addressing negative reviews from former staff or employees. Always take the high road and maintain professionalism.

Some tips for maintaining professionalism in the face of negative or unfair reviews include:

  • Be impartial. Research the issues brought up before determining if they do or do not have merit.
  • Don’t get defensive when responding to negative reviews.
  • Be empathetic with the ex-employee who posted the review.
  • Stay calm and non-retaliatory. Take time to craft a response rather than react out of emotion.
  • Be sincere in online responses and posts.

No one wants to see a bad review about their company or workplace online. Make sure that Human Resources has a protocol for dealing with these situations, which will make it easier to address later on.


Types of Toxic EmployeesBeware of Toxic Employees

Unaccountability. Negative attitudes. Meeting hogs. Freeloaders and hot tempers. Toxic employees and their behaviors bring a lot of hostility into the workplace. Learn how to deal with these 6 types of toxic employees with our guide on how to survive them.

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