Asking employees to write and post company reviews is a common practice that can give consumers and employers alike insight into how a business functions, including their daily operations, their approach to ethics and sustainability, and the quality of their products and services.
For employees, writing a review can help them gain perspective on what they like and dislike about the company they work for. And for employers, it can strengthen the company’s reputation and give an ancillary boost to search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. But soliciting reviews can also be a delicate issue, especially when the “request” for a review is more of a demand.
Keep reading to learn more about the ethics of employee reviews and find out how you can encourage your staff to make promotional choices that benefit everyone.
Forcing Employees to Write Positive Reviews Demonstrates Poor Taste and Worse Ethics
Online reviews can help bolster business and improve a company’s brand and reputation. One way reviews accomplish this is by establishing trust.
Consider the following statistics compiled by Forbes:
- 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
- 74% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
And online reviews do more than just increase your bottom line — they can also have a significant impact on the talent you attract to work for your company. For instance, according to a 2016 article in the Harvard Business Review, a negative reputation could cost your company more than 10% in pay increases per hire. Not only that, but almost 50% of professionals surveyed said they would not accept a job at a company with a poor reputation, and only 28% said that a promise of a 10% raise would change their minds.
Clearly, it’s important to get as many positive reviews as you can, but not at the expense of alienating your staff. Your employees should promote your business however they feel most comfortable. This might mean reposting online content to their social media pages, handing out business cards at local networking events, or even making a word-of-mouth recommendation to a friend or family member. And for some employees, it might simply mean doing a stellar job and then quietly heading home to spend the evening with their families.
What promotion should never entail is writing a disingenuous review out of fear of retribution. The legality of forcing a staff member to leave a positive review is murky at best and often depends on the state in which you do business, but the ethics of this practice are indisputable: pressuring an employee to write anything they do not believe in is wrong — plain and simple. No one should be forced to act as a mouthpiece in a propaganda effort they don’t agree with, and forcing your staff to do so will inevitably cost you valued employees (and subsequently, valuable revenue).
Another common yet dubious practice employers use to elicit positive reviews from their staff involves incentivization. Essentially, these companies offer employees some type of compensation for favorable reviews. Not only is this practice unethical, but it could violate the law, especially if you fail to disclose that you compensated your employees for their reviews. And as we’ve already established, consumers trust online reviews, so incentivizing your staff to inflate your online reputation with half-truths or misleading statements is a serious violation of your potential customers’ trust.
Of course, in addition to major legal and ethical concerns, you should ask yourself whether coercing your employees into posting fraudulent reviews even offers any benefits. In our experience, the best reviews are the most honest. It’s difficult to fake true enthusiasm, and discerning consumers will be able to smell baloney in any disingenuous reviews. In the end, you’ll have wasted your employees’ time and your resources and violated your potential customers’ trust for little to no return.
Create a Comfortable Environment That Encourages Employee Enthusiasm
Rather than forcing your staff to write positive reviews under duress, you should foster employee enthusiasm by cultivating a healthy workplace environment. Start by celebrating achievements, providing productive feedback, and encouraging employee autonomy. And when team members perform especially well, consider a pay increase, increased vacation time, flexible scheduling, or rewards through some type of bonus structure. Here at LaFleur, we use Bonusly as a way to recognize our peers. Using this helpful tool brings us closer as a team and publicizes our accomplishments among our friends and colleagues.
Remember, your employees are real people with their own busy lives, families, and stresses. So, when they miss a morning meeting to run their daughter to the urgent care clinic or pick up their husband from the airport, don’t create a mountain out of a molehill. When the employee makes it into work, ask them if everything turned out okay, provide them with notes from the meeting, and remind them to send a text or email the next time an emergency comes up (if they didn’t this time). And when you see your employee’s loved one at your next work outing, ask how they’re feeling or how the trip was. These types of small touches bring people together, and offering a kind word or showing interest can go a long way toward nurturing employee loyalty and enthusiasm.
Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself
Fear is not an effective motivator, especially over the long term. Never hang someone’s job over their head when they’re struggling with their workload or a company process. When people are afraid for their livelihood, their struggles and errors will invariably increase.
Instead, use mistakes or shortcomings as a springboard by focusing on what everyone learned from them. Whenever a failure occurs, it’s possible and even likely that your team gained knowledge and experience that they can use in the future. This feeds into the concept of worker autonomy and encourages employees to be more innovative and experimental. And one of the most common themes we see in positive employee reviews is that the employee had leeway to grow in their role and try new things without the fear of failure.
If an employee is having a difficult time understanding a company process or delivering their best work, sit down with them to discuss the issue. You hired them in the first place, so you know they have a skillset that makes them a good fit for their position. Your job as a manager or executive is to help them fulfill their duties effectively and understand their role in the larger scheme of the business.
When you treat your workers as responsible, professional adults and foster their talents, you’ll earn their respect and make them feel like the valued employees they are. They’ll feel more invested in your company, and their renewed confidence will inspire them to do their best work. And when an employee feels like a key contributor, they’re more likely to speak about their workplace in glowing terms. They may even broadcast their job satisfaction to the world via an online company review.
When it becomes apparent that an employee isn’t a good fit for a position, proceed with kindness and compassion. A fired employee has to go home to their family and friends and explain why they’ve been removed from their position, which is a difficult process for anyone. To make things easier for them, make time for a professional exit interview where you highlight their strengths and explain how they might be able to address the issues that led to their departure. Let them know you are grateful for everything you’ve accomplished together and, if it’s feasible, offer to act as a reference if they need one in the future. When you part ways on good terms, you leave the door open for potential partnerships down the road, and you also minimize the risk of backlash, which could include an incendiary, spiteful online review.
Contact LaFleur for Help With All Your Digital Marketing Needs
At LaFleur, we recognize the importance of honest and effective reviews. A winning reputation can go a long way toward boosting your bottom line, and it can even help your company attract and retain top-quality talent. Not only that, but a collection of strong testimonials can complement and strengthen all your other digital marketing strategies, including content development, automation, paid advertising campaigns, and social media, among others.
If you’d like to generate more positive reviews for your company, LaFleur can assist you. We’ve helped dozens of clients increase their SEO and boost their reputation by generating candid and trustworthy reviews and testimonials. Not only that, but we help our clients promote their positive reviews across numerous digital marketing channels. And if you’re looking for innovative ways to shore up your internal processes to create a more positive and productive work environment, we can help with that too.
To learn more about our approach or discuss a potential marketing partnership, please complete this brief contact form or give us a call at (888) 222-1512. We’re excited to help you gain new and loyal customers through proven, ethical strategies.
Burgess, W. (2016, March 29). A bad reputation costs a company at least 10% more per hire. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/03/a-bad-reputation-costs-company-at-least-10-more-per-hire
Erskine, R. (2017, September 19). 20 online reputation statistics that every business owner needs to know. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanerskine/2017/09/19/20-online-reputation-statistics-that-every-business-owner-needs-to-know/#32444306cc5c
Evans, L. (2018, June 5). Should you post a negative review of your former company? Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/40578374/should-you-post-a-negative-review-of-your-former-company
Williams, D. (2017, May 22). 6 ways to create a supportive work environment. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkwilliams/2017/05/22/6-ways-to-create-a-supportive-work-environment/#25042d34eafc