Assess – Recommend – Improve – Educate

…and the Survey Says!

Now that I defined the origin of the name of this business model in the previous article, it’s time to put some proof in this pudding.  Every once in awhile I come across surveys listing the Worst Places to Work For.  This is a good starting point because it highlights the activities contributing to this business model as they are more prevalent in these places establishing a baseline of support.  There are plenty of complaint sites out there but the problem with them is that more people go there to complain than praise.  SiteJabber is one of the better ones because some companies do have good ratings.  It is a great place to check out Gig Economy companies like Uber, Lyft, SiteJabber, AirBnB, etc but for this Glassdoor was used because they initially created this survey which was then passed on after just 2 years of publications.

The Worst Companies to Work For and Why (2013-2017)

An article on The Balance describes how the origin of this list started; “Few organizations are brave enough to release “worst” lists.  We can only imagine the backlash that happens when a multi-billion dollar retailing company is identified as the “worst” in any way. However, Glassdoor.com is one organization that dared to compile and make public a “Worst Companies to Work For” list beginning in 2008, based on voluntary employee surveys that evaluate eight workplace factors:

  • Senior Leadership
  • Communication
  • Employee Morale
  • Career Opportunities
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Recognition and Feedback
  • Fairness and Respect

Glassdoor stopped publishing its “worst employers” list after 2009, but using the data available on the Glassdoor website, 24/7 Wall St. has been creating its own Worst Workplaces list since 2012, based on its research and analysis of the ratings, rankings, and comments which are publicly available on Glassdoor.com.”

The majority of the names listed below come from 24/7 Wall St.’s 2013-2017 reports yet I also discovered one 2009 report which would be the second and final one from Glassdoor.  The Balance article goes from 2008 to 2015 but focused solely on retail and all employers is the focus of this Business Model so it’s included in the references for review.  Interestingly, I’ve worked for two of these companies.  One as an employee for over 6 years and the other as a contractor for 6 months until Corporate Budgeting cancelled it without informing my manager.

24/7 Wall St. Worst Places to Work For (2013-2017)

ADT*, AECOM, Alorica, AutoZone, Bank of New York Mellon, Books-A-Million, Brookdale Senior Living*, Broomfield, The Children’s Place*, CompuCom, Computer Services Corp, CVS, Dilliard’s**, DHL, DISH**, Dollar General*, Dominion Enterprises, Express Scripts**, Family Dollar*, Fiserv, Forever 21**, The Fresh Market, Frontier Communications*, Gamestop, Hertz, Genesis Healthcare, Gibson Guitar, Hewlett-Packard, hhgregg, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Jo-Ann Stores, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Kmart*, Kraft/Heinz*, L.A. Fitness, NCR, OfficeMax, RadioShack*, Rain Bird, Rent-A-Center, RGIS, Rite Aid, Ross, Robert Half International, Sears**, Spherion, Teleperformance, United Airlines, and Xerox**

*appeared in two of the four years
**appeared in 3 or more years

I went through each company summary of the complaints and aggregated them into a list.  It actually didn’t take that long before they became redundant indicating the same problems are happening regardless of employer type.

  • Layoffs and plant/store closures due to cost cutting measures and/or mergers (eroding or threatening Job Security and morale)
  • Long work days/weeks; No Work-Life Balance with some having to be available 24/7
  • Unrealistic expectations such as sales quotas or performance targets
  • Low or stagnant wages, long hours and out of touch and/or unsympathetic management and/or micromanaged with poor benefits of high deductible and/or high contribution levels.
  • Management Cliques resulting in Favoritism
  • Management Bullying
  • Management out of touch with employees
  • Unacceptable work environment such as too hot or cold with no response to complaints
  • Illegal activities the results of which impact employees in a variety of ways including layoffs, attrition, and pay cuts as the results of fines or other enforced restrictions.

Here are a few highlights of 24/7 Wall St. comments about these reports:

“According to Scott Dobroski, community expert at Glassdoor, the features of a great company to work for are relatively easy to identify. Employees who receive a clearly communicated vision from the company’s leaders, who have opportunities for advancement, and whose work has an impact on the company’s bottom line, are far more likely to rate their employer favorably. “A lower rated company on Glassdoor is exactly the opposite of that typically,” Dobroski said.” Source: 24/7 Wall St. 2015 Report

 “Starbucks and Costco are examples of retail companies that offer benefits or pay above the industry average and that employees rate highly.” Source: Time

““Lower level employees are faceless numbers to many members of upper management and are treated like pawns in a chess game.” Source: 24/7 Wall St. 2013 Report

“[R]etail operations…offers entry-level workers low-paying high-stress employment.”  Source: 24/7 Wall St 2014 Report

 “One former employee reported being “overworked and underpaid,” at times feeling like “an indentured servant.” -“Corporate leaders don’t truly respect or care about their employees. They only care about making money off of them.” Source: 24/7 Wall St. 2015 Report

“Corporate leaders don’t truly respect or care about their employees. They only care about making money off of them.” – 24/7 Wall Str.2016 Report

Although the following is from Glassdoor, it is not from one of the companies listed above yet from the many reviews I’ve personally read I felt this was a good overall contributing example for this model.

“Give up any and all outside life. What you think is a good salary soon becomes minimum wage when you figure you will be working around the clock, holidays and still unable to make their unreasonable quotas. They, simply put, will ring every bit of life from you, bleed you of all your past contacts and act like it’s your fault. Unreasonable work loads, day and night. ABSOLUTELY no set hours you WILL be working around the clock.

Driving 18 hours a week to investigate sites, 60 hours of technical writing and STILL being required to provide 50 contacts a week is obviously unintended to fit into a 60 hour work week, not even an 80 hour work week. A child can see that, a moron, and as you proudly claim to be the smartest in the business I can only assume it is with malice that you have no care or concern of your company moral, your EXTREME turn over rates, or the meager poorly assemble reports unknowing clients pay you for. Shameful wretched people..”

Can It Get Any Worse?

None of these surveys requested any information in regards to Employee Abuse also referred to as Workplace Bullying.  An article titled “Employee Abuse Runs Rampant in America” by Robert Oak published on May 20, 2013 on The Economic Populist starts out with, “Corporate culture, HR hound dogs who hunt the squeaky wheel, bullying, abuse and politics abound for working America today.  For those who still have a job, America has turned into a survivor game.  No longer are workers respected and treated as human beings.   Even those most educated and skilled are treated like pond scum.  There is even a name for it, bosshole and 20% of all workers claim their manager actually sabotaged their job.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely and the corporate structure of feudal lords all loyal to the CEO king have resulted in a toxic work environment for most.  Bullying in the workplace is common and 37% of all workers have experienced it.  Over 50% of employers admitted to incidents of workplace bullying with 25% of all HR employees admitting to being bullied themselves.”  Although this was written almost 5 years ago and addressing bullying is a common topic, I don’t really remember ever seeing it be truly addressed in the workplace other than placating policies primarily because there are sites out there addressing it so it still has to be prevalent enough for their sustained existence.  It’s bad enough when the overall culture is oppressive and then adds a bully into the mix.  The problem becomes further exasperated as this takes stress levels far beyond the normal Ups and Downs of Life eventually affecting various relationships and any overall sense of Peace.  The long term effect of this creates decreased productivity ending in a never ending Vicious Circle of Agony.  This can and does result in firings; “These days being fired is so common, we call it disposable worker syndrome.  America suffers severely from the disease, resulting in destroyed lives and a less productive economy.”

Somehow the idea was implanted in some of these people that this is the way to get ahead; “Bossholes are so common, ABC 20/20 produced an entire hour devoted to the topic.  Captured is an interview with someone clearly abusive trying to link their abuse to success, which is at minimum spurious.  In other words, these days bosses try to justify their extreme abuse by claiming that’s the ticket to the top.  Of course it is not, but that is how toxic corporate culture and business mentality towards workers has become. There is even a petition to get rid of bad bosses in America.  Yet television networks push reality shows like Survivor and Donald Trump, all creating some non-reality that workplace abuse is normal and therefore acceptable.  It isn’t.  When America’s economy was strongest was also when the United States had the strongest worker protections and culture.  That has all been eroded and replaced by serfs and aristocracy right here in America and the results are giving the same inefficient non-explosive economies as it was during those times.”

Whether it’s commentary by Glassdoor or the 24/7 Wall St. staff or any number of other articles I’ve come across that clearly indicate that these activities are not at all productive in an environment that requires productivity including the 5 year old post that I’ve been quoting; “The reality is bossholes cost the U.S. economy $360 billion a year in lost productivity.  The toll on workers is assuredly worse, with lost income, and a host of health problems that accompany toxic work environments.”  When that level of money is lost, it will be recovered through some avenue, you can be assured of that, which then is another level of exasperation.  Seeing that this appeared to be a well-established issue in 2013, is the answer legislation?  Some would say yes but…”Yet the United States cannot pass a single law protecting workers from being exposed to all sorts of abuse in the workplace.  There is a movement to pass anti-bullying in the workplace legislation, but business lobbyists have blocked it at every turn.  Right now the healthy workplace bill is being considered in nine states.  The typical corporate lobbyists, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have managed to stop the healthy workplace bill to date.  Considering the costs associated with employee abuse, one would think business would want to change.  Ah, but not so, businesses love their bullies and will protect them at any cost.”  Five years after these comments in this article were made the Healthy Workplace Bill is still in the works as evidenced by a site supporting it.  The map shows that 29 states have introduced it but none have passed it as of mid-February 2018.  The Fight for Fairness marches on.

If you’ve experience Workplace Bullying and need some help dealing with it, this article also referenced The Bullying Institute run by Drs. Gary and Ruth Namie.  From a quick perusal of the site, it’s been around for 20 years assisting people with this problem.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is not happening everywhere yet is prevalent enough to be a national issue.  Not all companies are like this such as Costco and Starbucks previously mentioned (more of those to come later).  Although underpaid was eventually not an issue for me, I’ve experienced both sides of the coin from the absolute best Mangers and Directors you could ask for to absolute horrors who saw 60 hrs. (or more!) as a “normal work week”.

Global Workplace Comparisons

I first discovered the difference between the American Workplace and other International Workplaces when I not just worked at United Airlines Cargo but also had the privilege of traveling around the world meeting many people in many countries.  Every year in late July a memo would be issued about Standby Air Travel in August reminding everyone it is best not to travel in Europe in August.  What’s so special about August in Europe?  Much of the populace is on Holiday aka Vacation.  Yes they get more Paid Time Off than Americans.  During the UA Bankruptcy years, Cargo was restructured to use 3rd Party Vendors in their warehouses.  The majority of the American cargo employees were given Severance Packages, many of whom had been there between 10-30 years.  In contrast; The UK Cargo employees had to be offered a position at the 3rd Party Vendor before others could be hired.  In other countries special contracts had to be attended to, plain and simply because of each country’s employment rules which was more often than not more fair or at least took their hardships into consideration in comparison to the American UA Cargo Employees who were basically just told to go home; too bad, so sad, here’s your Severance Package, “Thank you for years of dedicated service!!”, now deal with it!  I’ve read about how Americans more than any other country have more untaken vacation time and they get less than these countries!!!  This has become epidemic in America where many employers now monitor it and force them to take the time or lose it and many still lose it.

But hey! America is The Land of Opportunity.  It’s got to be worse elsewhere right?  Yes, but not as worse as you may think because America doesn’t rate so well when compared to other countries around the world.  I will explore how we rank with the rest of the world in the next article of this series.  Stay tuned…

Resources Quoted and Referred:

  1. The Origin of the Worst List | The Balance
  2. 2013 Worst Companies to Work For – 24/7 Wall St.
  3. 2014 Worst Companies to Work For – 24/7 Wall St.
  4. 2015 Worst Companies To Work For – 24/7 Wall St.
  5. 2016 Worst Companies to Work For – 24/7 Wall St.
  6. 2017 Worst Companies to Work For – 24/7 Wall St.
  7. Worst places to work in America | Glassdoor
  8. The 11 Worst Companies To Work For In America (2012) | AOL Finance
  9. Worst Companies to Work for (2014) | Time
  10. Are these the 12 worst companies to work for in America? (2016) | AL.com
  11. 10 Worst Companies To Work For (2016) | HuffPost
  12. 10 Worst Companies to Work For – AOL Finance