We all know the saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” But in the days of online reviews, it’s hard not to want to post a few negative words online, especially when we feel we’ve been wronged. Employees, especially those who feel they’ve been unfairly treated by an employer, may look for ways to vent their frustrations. Employer review sites like Glassdoor provide an ideal venue for these disgruntled employees and ex-employees to let the world know about their gripes with management.
Tiffany Kuehl, HR director with Versique in Minneapolis, says employees who feel unvalued or underappreciated often think they’ll find personal satisfaction from venting about their company in a public way. “When employees find themselves in a situation where they are prevented from contributing, do not have a safe environment, are treated unfairly or their feedback falls on deaf ears, they are likely to share their experience online,” says Kuehl.
While you may momentarily feel vindicated by voicing your complaints publicly online, Kuehl warns this moment may be short lived. Before hitting submit, be sure to ask yourself these six questions to ensure your review won’t land your career in hot water.
Analyze your reasons
Before writing a review, ask yourself what your reason for posting is. Are you upset because you didn’t get a raise? Did your benefits change and you’re now paying more out of pocket? “If you are genuinely concerned about the state of the business, the environment, or have raised issues internally and have not seen them addressed, then you can take to the internet, but you should do so with caution,” says Kuehl.
Examine your language
Be aware that many reviews that seem like “employer bashing” are quickly dismissed as the rants of a disgruntled ex-employee. Employers may also see the review as grounds for a lawsuit. To avoid landing in hot water, Kuehl says you should stay away from stating things as facts. “You can be sued for defamation if you post a negative review, however you’re less likely to be sued if you post it as an opinion rather than a fact,” says Kuehl. Using phrases like “in my experience” or “what I have noticed” or “what I have observed” can help you to avoid a lawsuit. You should also avoid naming coworkers or using phrases like “a co-worker told me” as these are hearsay and can get you, and your co-worker if they are found out, into trouble.
Beware of legal restrictions
Before going online to rant, review your employee contract. Some employers prohibit employees from providing information on salaries. You may also have a confidentiality agreement in place preventing you from disclosing any confidential company information. Violating these agreements can give your employer a legal case against you.
Is it really anonymous?
Although most employer review sites allow you to post anonymously, your anonymity is not guaranteed. Avoid revealing insider knowledge, naming your department or providing specific details of an incident or interaction that only a small group of people were a part of as doing that will make it fairly easy for your employer to identify who left the review. If you work for a small company, you may want to avoid leaving a review online as there’s a smaller pool of suspects.
Provide helpful feedback
Leaving an online review of your employer can be a way to make positive changes in the organization. Review platforms like Glassdoor allow reviewers to send a message to management. “When the review is constructive and does not come across as anger from a disgruntled employee, the organization can gain helpful information that can be used to make improvements,” says Kuehl. Sharing your insight and experience may expose issues within the organization that leaders are not aware of and could compel the company to investigate and take action.
Is There a Better Way?
Before heading online and voicing your frustrations publicly, consider whether there is another opportunity to achieve your objectives. Is there an opportunity to speak with a leader in your organization or direct your thoughts to HR? If there is, that may be a better way to achieve change than shaming the company online.