The word “ask” in the question poses an interesting ethical conundrum.
Q: Our company recently released a group of disgruntled employees who have since written negative reviews online. Is it appropriate to ask long-term employees to write about their more positive experiences?
A: The short answer is that it would not be appropriate.
We live in a world where the internet and social media present incredible opportunities to share positive, hopeful and impactful perspectives and information worldwide. At the same time, these platforms are utilized as a virtual soapbox to share negative, highly critical viewpoints and information. I recommend considering two things as you contemplate what to do.
First, the word ask in your question poses an interesting ethical conundrum. On one hand, asking an employee if he/she would write a positive review of the company seems simple and nonthreatening. Put yourself in the shoes of your organization’s peers.
How would they see the ask: as an intention to posit a suggestion, to request a favor, or genuine inquiry of interest in writing a review? Now, imagine if the person asking was a superior in your company – the ask may feel more like a responsibility. Instead, maybe you should meet with your marketing department to brainstorm potential opportunities to create positive organizational awareness aimed toward potential new hires and the external community. If the marketing department feels it wants to highlight current employees’ positive experiences, fine.
Second, it is important to remember that reviews are an individual’s opinion. In a recent Outside Consultant column, I discussed gaining information from factual-based inquiry in contrast to opinion-based information. I myself do read company reviews before applying for a job and product reviews before making a purchase, but I do not rely solely on them. Acknowledging reviews are opinions is essential in how a person analyzes and/or relies on information when forming their judgment. Therefore, I would suggest anyone reading reviews triangulate data from a variety of sources.
Finally, if you want to write a positive review about your company, go for it. You have every right to share the benefits of your experience.
Nicole Zwieg Daly, J.D., Ed.D., director of the Center for Ethics in Practice at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.
This article originally appeared in the Star Tribune on July 28, 2018. Used by kind permission of the Star Tribune.