Amer­ica’s worst com­pa­nies to work

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Em­ploy­ees can now share their opin­ions about em­ploy­ers on­line. As a re­sult, com­pa­nies face new rep­u­ta­tion risks that can af­fect their cus­tomers and share­hold­ers.

For the third year, the on­line por­tal 24/7 Wall St. has iden­ti­fied the na­tion’s worst com­pa­nies to work for, hav­ing an­a­lysed thou­sands of re­views from jobs and ca­reer web­site Glass­ and selected the 11 com­pa­nies with the low­est rat­ings. Many of the com­pa­nies on this list con­tinue to be in the re­tail sec­tor. As a re­sult, com­plaints tended to fo­cus on wages and hours worked. In many cases, these con­cerns fo­cused on how dif­fi­cult it can be for sales em­ploy­ees to meet tar­gets that qual­i­fied them for com­mis­sions.

In other in­stances, em­ploy­ees com­plained more about how they thought a com­pany was mis­han­dling its cus­tomers.

How­ever, em­ploy­ees work­ing in re­tail are not all un­happy. Scott Do­broski, as­so­ciate di­rec­tor for cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tion at Glass­, sug­gested that pay plays a big part. “We know that com­pen­sa­tion is the num­ber one fac­tor job seek­ers con­sider when de­ter­min­ing where to work.” Star­bucks and Costco are ex­am­ples of re­tail com­pa­nies that of­fer ben­e­fits or pay above the in­dus­try aver­age and that em­ploy­ees rate highly.

A sig­nif­i­cant share of em­ployee grievances was di­rected at mid­dle man­age­ment. Work­ers at these com­pa­nies were also highly likely to dis­ap­prove of their CEO. Chief ex­ec­u­tives at 10 of the 11 worst com­pa­nies to work for re­ceived pos­i­tive ap­proval rat­ings from less than half of their em­ploy­ees. At six of these businesses, less than 30% of work­ers en­dorsed the CEO.

These are Amer­ica’s worst com­pa­nies to work for.

1. Books-A-Mil­lion (spe­cialty stores) CEO ap­proval rat­ing: 22% (Terry Fin­ley) Em­ploy­ees: 5,400

Books-A-Mil­lion Inc. (NAS­DAQ: BAMM) em­ployed 5,400 work­ers at more than 250 U.S. stores at the be­gin­ning of this year, most of which were part-time. Like many re­tail­ers with un­happy em­ploy­ees, Books-A-Mil­lion in­sti­tutes com­mis­sion­based pay struc­tures. Per­haps as a re­sult, high stress and low pay were com­mon com­plaints on Glass­

Just 14% of em­ploy­ees said they would rec­om­mend this com­pany to a friend. Its cul­ture and value were rated just 1.8, the low­est among com­pa­nies re­viewed. CEO Terry Fin­ley is also not pop­u­lar, with just 22% think­ing he is do­ing a good job. Over the past sev­eral years, the com­pany has strug­gled to keep up with other large re­tail and on­line book sell­ers like Barnes & No­ble and Ama­

2. Ex­press Scripts (health care) CEO ap­proval rat­ing: 28% (Ge­orge Paz) Em­ploy­ees: 29,975

Ex­press Scripts Hold­ing Co. (NAS­DAQ: ESRX) is a leading phar­macy ben­e­fits man­ager, fa­cil­i­tat­ing a wide range of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drug op­er­a­tions, in­clud­ing dis­tri­bu­tion and cost man­age­ment. Poor work-life bal­ance was one of the most com­mon com­plaints among Glass­ re­views. One for­mer em­ployee wrote, “work life bal­ance is nonex­is­tent, you are ex­pected to be avail­able to work all the time.” Less than a third of em­ploy­ees ap­proved of CEO Ge­orge Paz.

Un­like sev­eral other com­pa­nies on this list, Ex­press Scripts has grown con­sid­er­ably in re­cent years. Af­ter a merger with Medco Health So­lu­tions in 2012, some em­ploy­ees ex­pected the com­pany to con­duct lay­offs. To­tal em­ploy­ment de­clined only slightly, how­ever.

3. Fron­tier Com­mu­ni­ca­tions (tele­com) CEO ap­proval rat­ing: 27% (Mag­gie Wilderot­ter) Em­ploy­ees: 13,650

Fron­tier Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Corp. (NAS­DAQ: FTR) is one of the larger com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies in the U.S., known pri­mar­ily for pro­vid­ing ser­vices to ru­ral and smaller Amer­i­can towns and cities. While it has been down­siz­ing its work­force in re­cent years, the com­pany con­sid­ers its re­la­tion­ship with its em­ploy­ees to be good. Its em­ploy­ees may dis­agree, how­ever. A num­ber of re­view­ers seem to think Fron­tier Com­mu­ni­ca­tions is no longer on the fore­front of com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy. One cur­rent em­ployee ex­plained, “the rea­son you can’t hire is that no one wants to work in a di­nosaur.”

De­spite the chal­lenges of pro­vid­ing ser­vices to small, re­mote pop­u­la­tions, Fron­tier has sought to ex­pand its con­trol of the ru­ral mar­ket in re­cent years. The com­pany bought 4.8 mln ac­cess lines from Ver­i­zon in 2009. Rev­enue, how­ever, de­clined from $5.2 bln in 2011 to $5.0 bln in 2012 and then to $4.8 bln last year.

4. Jos. A. Bank Cloth­iers (cloth­ing re­tail) CEO ap­proval rat­ing: 24% (R. Neal Black) Em­ploy­ees: 6,469

Sales man­agers at Jos. A. Bank Cloth­iers Inc. (NAS­DAQ: JOSB) fre­quently ex­pressed frus­tra­tion at the num­ber of hours they were re­quired to work. Sales work­ers of­ten com­plained as well, with many cit­ing a dif­fi­cult com­mis­sion struc­ture and the com­pany’s ever-chang­ing prod­uct prices. While many em­ploy­ees said they en­joyed help­ing cus­tomers im­mensely, oth­ers felt cus­tomers were of­ten de­mand­ing.

But while em­ploy­ees were un­happy with the com­pany, for­mer share­hold­ers had rea­son to be quite pleased. Af­ter months of bit­ter back-and-forth ne­go­ti­a­tions - which helped to drive up Jos. A. Bank’s share price - the cloth­ing re­tailer was ac­quired by Men’s Wear­house for $1.8 bln in March. The deal for­mally closed in mid-June.

5. Brook­dale Se­nior Liv­ing (fa­cil­i­ties for the el­derly) CEO ap­proval rat­ing: 51% (T. Andrew Smith) Em­ploy­ees: 49,000

Brook­dale Se­nior Liv­ing Inc. (NYSE: BKD) is an op­er­a­tor of as­sisted-liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties. Em­ploy­ees are among the most mis­er­able reporting poor man­age­ment, un­der­staffing and high turnover. Some em­ploy­ees have ex­pressed con­cern over the com­pany’s in­creased fo­cus on prof­its. “They’ve lost sight of their val­ues — the bot­tom line comes first and the res­i­dents are last,” one re­viewer said on Glass­ De­spite these com­plaints, how­ever, CEO Andrew Smith had a bet­ter ap­proval rat­ing than his coun­ter­parts at any of the other com­pa­nies on this list, at 51%.

6. Dil­lard’s (depart­ment stores) CEO ap­proval rat­ing: 24% (Bill Dil­lard II) Em­ploy­ees: 40,000

Founded in 1938, Dil­lard’s Inc. (NYSE: DDS) is cur­rently among the largest cloth­ing and home fur­nish­ings re­tail­ers in the na­tion. The com­pany owned and op­er­ated nearly 300 stores na­tion­wide and em­ployed 40,000 work­ers, half of which were part-time. Like many other en­try-level re­tail po­si­tions, sales jobs at Dil­lard’s tend to in­volve penal­ties for un­met sales goals. While these pay struc­tures of­fer higher wages for high achiev­ers, em­ploy­ees re­ported poor job se­cu­rity and un­re­li­able work sched­ules. While em­ploy­ees ap­pear un­happy, cus­tomers are rel­a­tively sat­is­fied with Dil­lard’s. Cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, as mea­sured by its Amer­i­can Cus­tomer Sat­is­fac­tion In­dex (ACSI) score, rose 2.5% last year. In­vestors, too, are likely happy with Dil­lard’s. Shares have risen by more than 1,100% in the past five years.

7. ADT (se­cu­rity and alarms) CEO ap­proval rat­ing: 48% (Naren Gur­sa­haney) Em­ploy­ees: 17,000

Home and busi­ness se­cu­rity sys­tems com­pany ADT Corp. (NYSE: ADT) is the largest com­pany of its kind. It cur­rently serves more than 6 mln cus­tomers, but its pop­u­lar­ity does not mean em­ploy­ees are sat­is­fied. Sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives, who pitch the com­pany’s se­cu­rity pack­age door-to-door or over the phone, were among the most likely to give the com­pany a poor re­view. Em­ploy­ees com­plained of stress­ful com­mis­sion-based pay struc­tures. In ad­di­tion to crit­i­cisms from em­ploy­ees, ADT has also been scru­ti­nized by reg­u­la­tors. The com­pany has come un­der crit­i­cism for se­cretly pay­ing ex­perts to en­dorse its

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