The Internet has become almost a seamless part of everyday life for most people. Users consult their smartphones, tablets, and computers to answer questions, find information, and connect with friends and acquaintances via social media. The immediacy of the connections and the amount of available information has made websites and social media very popular. The speed at which information travels on the Internet makes combating inaccurate and negative information somewhat difficult. There is little, if any, time to retract a statement and “unsending” an email can prove to be nearly impossible. This means that once a comment is out in cyberspace, the damage is done.
When someone is upset or angry about something, venting can be done online and through social media. If that disgruntled person has been laid off from a company, the comments will probably target it and can cause damage to the company’s brand. One site that might be a place for such venting is Yelp.com. Yelp.com is a website that is designed to help the user locate a business or service in their local area, but there is an option for anyone to write a review on that business or service. With over a million visitors to the site per month, the reach for those comments can be extensive. Companies managing the negative comments can be difficult, because many things are not truly erased online. Positive comments can make progress in repairing a company’s brand, but avoiding the problem in the first place might be the easier option.
How can websites like Yelp.com assist a company in protecting the brand? First, understand the message that is being conveyed. If there is some merit to the negative comments; then perhaps changing policies might be advised. Perception from employees about the company and the fairness of its policies is what creates the basis for the passionate comments that people spread. Those perceptions are heightened at the time an employee is laid off so making certain that he is taken care of throughout the termination process is critical to his parting thoughts about the company. If termination or outplacement is handled with care and the employee feels respected and supported in the process, there is less likelihood of damage occurring.
Next, monitoring Yelp.com, Glassdoor.com, and Vault.com can be helpful because the comments can be managed in a timely manner. Also, knowing that a company’s potential new hires might be looking at and contributing to those same sites can mean that it is important to keep on top of the information posted so that your applicant pool continues to offer quality candidates.
Yelp.com allows a user to add reviews without a great deal of censorship, so the reviews can be heartfelt and damaging. A nice contrast might be to have an employee feel respected and supported during outplacement, so that he is motivated to add positive statements in cyberspace. Finally, adopting policies that take care of the employees as they separate from a company is a critical step in protecting a company’s brand.
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