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The question

A few months ago, I left a job at a high-profile technology company because of a toxic work environment. It’s a buzzy place with lots of perks, but they have high turnover. A lot of people are reaching out to me on LinkedIn asking for advice about working for the company. Part of me wants to tell them to run away, but I also don’t want to get a reputation for badmouthing the business. Is there any downfall to responding with my honest experience? Or should I just ignore the messages?

The first answer

Emma Ghane, HR and talent management, One Moment Logistics, Toronto

I am sorry you had to experience a toxic work environment. Even if it was a buzzy company, everyone deserves the right to work in a well-balanced, healthy environment.

I would highly recommend against speaking on your personal experiences as a previous employee of the organization. Often, larger organizations will have outlined a non-solicitation clause within your original employment agreement, which would include legal terminology against the act of actively enticing potential candidates away from the company. Any discourse from this agreement could potentially lead to legal implications against you.

You have every right to ignore the LinkedIn messages. Should you wish to reply, redirect anyone who reaches out to Glassdoor/Indeed by saying something like: “I don’t feel comfortable with sharing direct feedback with respect to my experience, but I would recommend reviewing the reviews for this organization on Glassdoor/Indeed.” I would suggest that you leave an honest, anonymous review on your experiences on these sites as well to provide future candidates with a clear understanding of your experience of the work culture.

The second answer

Natasha Lakhani, vice-president of people and talent, Snapcommerce Technologies, Toronto

My advice in this situation stems from ensuring you are coming from a place of positive intent. Ask yourself this: Is the purpose of me giving advice about working for this company because I truly care to give balanced feedback to the person seeking advice? Or is it because I didn’t like my experience there and I want to express that feeling?

If you can truly answer this with the former and with authenticity, then I would structure my advice in a manner that is balanced. As you mentioned, there are many perks at this organization, however, your experience was not favourable. Provide the data points, but leave it up to the person to make their decision based on seeing both sides of the coin. It allows the person seeking advice to draw their own conclusions. Ultimately, what works for one person in terms of company fit or culture may not work for someone else, so it is important to ensure they only see your advice as one point of reference.

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On the flip side, if you answer the question differently, you may need to step back and have further separation from your experience in order to give balanced advice.

At the end of the day, you have the ability to influence someone’s career decision, so don’t take it lightly.

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