America’s worst companies to work
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 Glassdoor.com 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 Glassdoor.com, 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 Glassdoor.com.
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 Amazon.com.
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 Glassdoor.com 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 Glassdoor.com. 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