Top 10 Worst Corporate Cultures

As the war for talent becomes more and more fierce,  job seekers are doing their research before making their decisions.  One the key things they are looking for is a good work environment. With employees flocking to Glassdoor and Indeed to tell the world what’s going on inside the company, it’s becoming more difficult to hide a bad culture.

My experience looking inside 50+ companies ranging from $10M to $150B has given me the ability to notice trends, and even more so, to predict why a company is having problems. And what I’ve found is getting to the root of operational problems usually involves uncovering cultural ones.

A toxic culture can sabotage the best strategy and make it impossible to hire talent. So how do you know if your culture is toxic?  Sites like Glassdoor and Indeed make it easy.  For this article I used Glassdoor’s company review information to make a list of the top 10 worst corporate cultures.

How does Glassdoor get this information?

“Glassdoor calculates company ratings using a proprietary ratings algorithm, with an emphasis on recency of reviews. With this improvement, we’re giving job seekers and employers what they’ve asked of us – the freshest perspective on what it’s really like to work inside any company, according to employees.”

Company ratings are based on a 5-point scale, and the CEO percentage and the “recommend to a friend” are part of the company review process. While I like this format, the variance seemed too big and therefore I’ve added my own rating using A through F, including – or + depending where they fall into the range. 

  • 0.00 – 1.50 Employees are “Very Dissatisfied” (CZ rating is F)

  • 1.51 – 2.50 Employees are “Dissatisfied” (CZ rating is D-, D, D+)

  • 2.51 – 3.50 Employees say it’s “OK” (CZ rating is C-, C, C+)

  • ​3.51 – 4.00 Employees are “Satisfied” (CZ rating is B-, B, B+)

  • ​4.01 – 5.00 Employees are “Very Satisfied” (CZ rating is A-, A, A+)

I’ve listed these in order using the overall rating, with the lowest score last.

 

1. Kraft Heinz

Glassdoor rating: 3.0 out of 5 (up from 2.7 in 2018)
CZ rating: C
CEO: Bernardo Hees
CEO Approval: 57%
Recommend to a friend: 39%

It’s easy to understand why this company culture is in the dumps. After the merger of Kraft and Heinz, major shareholder 3G Capital appointed the cost cutting CEO Bernardo Hees to take the helm in hopes of monetizing their investment.  Hees ruthless strategy of major job and expense cutting worked for a short time, delivering over 20 percent margins, but appears to have fatigued the organization.  Unless you strategically invest in improved technology, processes and people to streamline work, these cuts can bleed an organization to death.

An example of this is captured in these comments;

“A lot is expected from the employees, making work/life balance challenging.”

No work life balance (11 hour days have become the norm)” or “Toxic environment” sums up the culture at Kraft Heinz.

This theme of work life balance showed up in over 400 reviews, which screams red flag for any employee considering going to work there.

I’ve said this many times in my book on restructuring and I’ll say it again, you CAN NOT cut your way to growth.  And you will never create loyal, engaged employees with this mindset. I have my eye on Kraft Heinz and Hees to see their results for the next quarter.

2. Sears

Glassdoor rating: 2.8 out of 5
CZ rating: C-
CEO: Edward S. Lampert
CEO Approval: 18%
Recommend to a friend: 29%

Are you surprised?  Sears has been on a downward spiral for over a decade, with no hopes of ever recovering. As for the culture, I have some inside information from two people who used to work as executives for Sears about the culture and “Eddie”.  Mr. Lampert scored the lowest CEO Approval on the list, for good reason.

If you work in the corporate office and want a life, forget it. This workaholic CEO expects his employees to put in weekday evenings and weekends without any recognition or financial rewards.  If you work in the stores, it’s just as bad based on reviews from Indeed, like this quote from a former employee.

“Unrealistic expectations, unbalanced  work load. upper management do little to no work” and “underpay, got mistreated by the managers”.

Another issue in the stores is the negative remarks from the customers. “When do you think Sears will declare bankruptcy?”  This can’t be a healthy environment, but the salespeople say it’s a pretty normal response from customers.

The future of Sears is pretty dim, it’s only a matter of time before the light goes out for good.

3. CompuCom

Glassdoor rating: 2.7 out of 5
CZ rating: C-
CEO: Greg Hoogerland
CEO Approval: 44%
Recommend to a friend: 36%

Labeled as some of the most dissatisfied workers in the country, CompuCom, a wholly subsidiary of Office Depot, will have its fifth CEO in the last five years, as Dan Stone leaves and Greg Hoogerland steps in. And boy does he have some icky shoes to step into.

With that kind of turnover, there’s no way the employees feel loyal and certainly can’t be engaged. These musical chairs are killing the culture and creating fear in the employees. Not knowing the leadership style, and having to figure it out once a new CEO takes the helm is extremely stressful to employees. So it goes without saying that fewer than half of the company’s employees approved of CEO Dan Stone, and just 37% would recommend a job at the company to a friend.

Given the turnover at the top, it’s not a surprise to read this from a director level employee on Glassdoor;

“Worked for a few companies and this company is one of the most dishonest, unprofessional organizations I have be acquainted with” .

Woah…that hurts!

4. DISH Network

Glassdoor rating: 2.7 out of 5
CZ rating: C-
CEO: W. Erik Carlson
CEO Approval: 47%
Recommend to a friend: 38%

Back in 2012, Glassdoor named Dish the worst place to work for and the then CEO Joe Clayton said “That’s ridiculous.” He didn’t believe the employee complaints and focused instead on the technology DISH was creating.

In 2017 Erik Carlson was named CEO and restructured the organization in hopes of better synergies and communication. While it’s not THE WORST company to work for, it’s still in the top 10.

A former manager stated, “I left DISH because I was over worked, over stressed, and not appreciated for the amount of time I gave the company (12-15 hours a day as a manager). “

A the center of most of the employee complaints was the feeling of stress and under appreciation. When people feel supported, respected and appreciated, they will put the extra work in. I’m interested to see Mr. Carlson’s approach to improving the culture, if at all. The good news is he didn’t call the reviews ridiculous, but then again he probably won’t read them.

5. Xerox

Glassdoor rating: 2.7 out of 5
CZ rating: C-
CEO: John Visentin
CEO Approval: 38%
Recommend to a friend: 34%

John Visentin was named CEO in May 2018 with the hope that Xerox will be transformed back to it’s glory days of being a market leader and an admired company to work for. He’s got quite a challenge after reading through some of the more seasoned and experienced employees.

I reached out to John since I am about 10 minutes from their offices to offer some help. I’ve seen this before and have had success getting quick wins that the board and analysts like to see. Have not heard back but I get the sense he’s up to his ears trying to make an impact to a business that has sharp competition from Ricoh, Konica Minolta and HP.  With that much pressure, where do you the 39,000 employees fit into his schedule?  I can’t imagine CULTURE is top on his list to things improve, but I could be wrong.

Take a read from CURRENT employee reviews on Glassdoor. I was shocked by the candor of some of these employees who still work there!

Executive with 9 yrs
“New leadership with no real vision other than maximizing cash flow.  The company is in shambles….

“Wall Street investors (you know who you are) have forced senior leadership to abandon our core belief system. The customer is no longer #1. In fact, they no longer solicit customer feedback – at all.”

FP&A Manager
“20 yrs employed. They treat people very badly and are constantly sending jobs overseas. Are not running the company as a going concern.”

Manager with 6 yrs at job
“THEFT!!! Robbing employees to improve balance sheet. Hard working employees getting screwed so Xerox’s cash flow is better for earnings.”

6. Alorica

Glassdoor rating: 2.6 out of 5
CZ rating: C-
CEO: Andy Lee
CEO Approval: 46%
Recommend to a friend: 38%


Mr. Andy Lee founded Alorica Inc. in 1999 and still serves as its Chairman and CEO.  While his goal was to improve customer experiences and his entrepreneurial talents, he clearly has no idea how to build a safe work environment.

One thing is for sure, there are major problems with their culture. In an EEOC lawsuit filed in September 2017, the suit alleged widespread sexual harassment by managers at Irvine-based Alorica

As one of the nation’s largest call center firms, they ended up paying $3.5 million to settle charges that its customer service representatives were “openly propositioned for sex, leered at and touched by supervisors and co-workers,” and the company retaliated against them when they complained.

This review by an employee on Glassdoor said it best;

“There are no redeeming qualities to working at Alorica other than the fact that you can get hired on the spot.”

7. Genesis HealthCare

Glassdoor rating: 2.5 out of 5
CZ rating: D+
CEO: George Hager
CEO Approval: 29%
Recommend to a friend: 28%

While Mr. Hager has taken the company from $200M to $5.4B in his tenure, the employees don’t think too highly of good ole George. His low approval rating is less to be desired.

What’s interesting about Genesis HealthCare is the pay.  An average salary is $85,000, well above the national average for the most common position in the industry.

While their tag line is “We change lives”, the employees think otherwise as seen in these reviews;

Upper management not in touch with the needs of staff in the facilities” (in 81 reviews)

“Large corporations can some times be impersonal for patient care” (in 53 reviews)

With this kind of remark the idea of patient care as a business first comes to mind. It makes you wonder what short cuts they may be taking to continue Hager’s growth track record.  Whatever the case, the all too common theme of management not in touch with the people doing the work evident here. The people may stay for the paycheck, but their heart isn’t loyal to the company and that will always flow down to the customer.

8. Conduent

Glassdoor rating: 2.5 out of 5
CZ rating: D+
CEO: Ashok Vemuri
CEO Approval: 39%
Recommend to a friend: 35%

Like many other companies on this list, Conduent is having financial issues that are impacting the culture. The company’s revenue fell from $6.7 billion in 2015 to $6.4 billion in 2016 to $6.0 billion in 2017. Job pressure from a companies’ poor financial performance can be felt all the way down the organization.

As the stress mounts the managers push harder on the employees doing the work as seen in this quote from an employee on Indeed;

“The management does not care about the employees. The hours are horrible. Overtime is expected at the last minute and it is mandatory. “

From the research I’ve conducted it looks appears the senior managers are untouchable. If that’s the case it’s nearly impossible to have a trust, respect and a good culture.  Reading some of the statements made me cringe, including this one by a former mid- level employee.

“It’s constant work and you can’t even take a break without a manager following you to the bathroom to ask what you’re doing. ”  Yikes!

The job is not hard, it’s just not a place to stay unless you have nothing else to do in life.

Run, don’t walk, away from an opportunity here.

9. Frontier Communications

Glassdoor rating: 2.4 out of 5 (declined from 2.5)
CZ rating: D+
CEO: Dan McCarthy
CEO Approval: 17% (declined from 22%)
Recommend to a friend: 25%

The company as a whole is mess.  In the last year, Frontier’s share price took a 50% nosedive, falling from over $19 a share to less than $8.  If that didn’t hurt enough, senior executives have been denied bonuses in each of the last two years — partially a result of the company’s poor performance on Wall Street. With this kind of track record it’s amazing anyone goes to work there.  It is common place for employees to post about its negative culture on Glassdoor and Indeed.

This comment pretty much sums up Frontier’s employee issues;

“Worked their 4 yrs, never received a performance review, never received any formal coaching, was basically on my own from day 1 to figure things out. People were great, however Senior Management lacked a clear direction. Moved the business offshore and back onshore 3 times in less than 2 years.”

With that kind of haphazard changes, it’s no wonder the company is having the issues with employees and management.  Forget about loyalty and retention.

10. The Fresh Market

Glassdoor rating: 2.3 out of 5 (declined from 2.4)
CZ rating: D
CEO: Larry Appel
CEO Approval: 30%
Recommend to a friend: 26%

 

Based on employee reviews on Glassdoor, grocery store chain The Fresh Market is the worst U.S. company to work for. It is the only qualifying company with a Glassdoor rating of 2.3, a decline from 2.4 only a year ago.

The Fresh Market employees regularly complain about the company’s senior leadership. Just 30% of reviewers approve of the job CEO Larry Appel is doing, and his leadership team scored even lower with a shocking paltry 1.9 out of 5.0 rating.

If this isn’t a sign of a major culture problem in the company I don’t know what is.  But what are they doing about it? I called the corporate office to speak to Human Resources to get some insight, but alas, no one returned my calls.

In summary, these companies are just the tip of the iceberg.  Other notables all in the retail arena are Forever 21 and Family Dollar, but there are hundreds of companies, both public and private, whose cultures are hurting the companies financial performance.

With the war on talent, employees have options, and having a great culture ensures attracting the best people.  Culture is a competitive advantage, period, end of story.  As millennials continue to flood the job market, they are looking for a company that provides a mission and values as demonstrated through their actions and not just words.

But, when a company has warning signs like the ones above, it’s usually a too late and a major change management plan must be put into place that will take years to see any benefits. Why do CEOs not understand their biggest asset are their people and by creating the right environment for them to thrive, this helps them achieve their business goals.  It’s easier to manage people who like coming to work and doing their job. Pretty simple, yet hard to understand by these companies and many more who look only at the bottom line as their sign of success.

 

 

 

 

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