Are You Struck By The Glassdoor?

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Are You Struck By The Glassdoor?

The blow from anonymous Glassdoor reviews can have serious and disproportionate consequences on small businesses. It may feel like being struck by a revolving glass door. Bad reviews make it hard to hire the best people. Many potential employees review a company before joining them. The same applies to clients who want to know whom they are doing business with. As for the big companies, the reviews may have some effect but not as consequential as to the small companies. This article illustrates our approach to organizational culture building.

Bad reviews deliver a double blow to small companies and a slight dent to big ones.

Some of the reviews are a result of missed opportunities within the company that failed to have the most important conversations with their employees. A few others are systematic failures in the system where many things go on without proper checks and balances. Some percentage is due to failure of organizations to promptly act on the reports by employees.

People who write scathing reviews want to send a message to the companies and future candidates. 

It may not be the most effective way to bring changes in a company. It may serve as a warning for the potential candidates who want to join the firm. A review intended to punish the company will barely have any impact on the leadership. The one who wrote such reviews will be dismissed as a disgruntled employee.

Is Anonymity a Gift?

Anonymity is critical when employees fear some kind of reprisal from the employer whether it be former, current, or future. It is easy these days to pull up someone’s name and see how they behave online. Anonymity has its benefits. However, anonymity does not mean we have the right to irresponsible comments and reviews.

Anonymity has its benefits, but it does not give us the right to irresponsible comments and reviews.

According to a Career Builder survey 70% of employers snoop on candidates. This brings up a very important issue. Every one of us has the utmost responsibility and accountability to everything we say and write whether it be anonymous or with our name attached to it. As candidates research potential employers, employers research their potential employees as well.

In case of any violations that require a legal remedy, affected parties should not hesitate to report to authorities. Do not stop at Glassdoor.

What Are The Common Complaints

I would like to discuss some of the common concerns in the Glassdoor reviews of Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies To Work For (2019) list. I will deliberately stay away from telling which specific company the review is about and focus more on the concern than a particular company. Many of these concerns relate to the top ten from the 100 Best Companies list.

Personal Concerns

  • No balance between work and life
  • Insufficient compensation 
  • No proper career path
  • Company specific skills that cannot help with transition
  • Annual pay raise is minimal
  • Not enough perks
  • No appreciation from leadership
  • No one listens

Some of the above concerns are relative. One may complain about no lunch and the other may complain about the quality of lunch. Some are serious concerns. It may not be possible to have a work-life balance without the support of the managers and employers. It is important to invest in people if employers expect a certain kind of commitment.

A sense of urgency cannot be expected from employees when the companies leadership is laid back.

Organizational Concerns

  • Promotion is by favoritism
  • Leaders hiring less qualified buddies from former companies
  • Bad managers are a major source of concern

Unqualified leadership do tag team and migrate from one organization to another organization. It should be a serious concern.

These are serious concerns. Organizations need to take these accusations very seriously and find ways to remedy them. It needs to start from the top. If CEOs encourage favoritism, they can’t expect those who work under them to do the right thing.

Leadership Concerns

  • Task managers with poor people skills
  • Leadership is detached from realities
  • No inspiration or motivational leadership
  • Inaccessible leadership
  • Unresponsive management
  • Incompetent leadership
  • Arrogant leadership
  • Lack of mentorship

Leadership is not determined by title but by qualities within oneself.

Leadership concerns are not just for the top level executives. Every single person is a leader in his/her own capacity within the organization. Appropriate training along with continuous education may help.


  • Shame based culture
  • Blame based culture
  • Highly political environment
  • Laid back culture where no one cares about anything
  • Racism, bias, and discrimination
  • Complaints about reverse-racism (a majority race complaining that the minority is racist)
  • Lack of diversity (ethnic, race, age, gender etc.)
  • Unable to express opinion without reprisal
  • Toxic culture
  • Competitive and not collaborative environment
  • Erosion of culture with growth

Culture is the core of all organizational issues. Culture breeds good as well as bad practices. Organizations should have zero tolerance to racism, bias, discrimination, reverse racism, politics etc. 

How Should Small Companies Respond

Small businesses may not have the luxury to have a peoples department. Some aspects of people management such as payroll and benefits are usually outsourced. What cannot be outsourced is relationship management. Many managers and leaders are not familiar with identifying and having crucial conversations. People are afraid and not comfortable bringing up concerns with the leadership. In some cultures all issues end in gossip that the management may never come to know.

Can your employees bring up a sensitive topic without fearing a reprisal? If not, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. 

It is very important to build a good relationship between employees. It may help to read books such as Crucial Conversations by Patterson et al., and promote a culture where it is comfortable to discuss critical issues without the fear of getting fired or losing a highly skilled employee.

Organizations cannot stay in business if their only goal becomes appeasement of employees in order to get great reviews. The goal should never be that of getting great reviews. 

The goal should always be to become the most cherished place where people love to come and work. 

Everyone is in the business to make money. You cannot make money with a group of unhappy and unmotivated people. It is better to shutdown the business than to insist on squeezing work out of people. Unhappy employees are not good for business. 

If employees are incompetent, do not pamper them. If the employees are competent, do not ignore them.

How Should Large Companies Respond

How should the large companies respond to anonymous reviews? Everything that is said about small companies apply to large companies as well. Large companies often have the capability to bring in the necessary leadership and training to help with building relationships. Large companies should continue to pay attention to what employees say online. Identify the common complaints and address them promptly. It is important to communicate and be transparent.

You can only sweep so much under the rug before it becomes obvious. Companies should have higher moral standards. 

Encourage people to have crucial conversations without the fear of reprisal. Reward employees for introducing positive change in the company. Help employees find a higher purpose in what they are doing.


Let’s acknowledge that we all are human beings. We all are learners for the rest of our lives. We need to treat each other as fellow human beings and not anything less. People often have to unlearn the bias and discrimination that they witnessed growing up. The very same people go on to work in various companies at various levels. Leaders have to lead by example and build a positive culture – a culture where it is appreciated to have the most important conversations. 

About Author


Shagul is the Founder and Chief Architect of Got BizSense LLC. He is passionate about changing the way IT business is done. He helps businesses solve their problems without getting tangled in the technology hype.