Special Report

America’s Worst Companies to Work For

Companies often tout their workplaces as an inviting environment for employees. Yet many are far from it, and employees at many of America’s largest corporations dislike, or even hate, their jobs. With some of these companies in deep trouble, having disgruntled employees makes improving their operations that much harder. Or, some might say, it is their bad relationship with employees that caused some of their problems in the first place.

Read: America’s Worst Companies to Work For

Often, however, a combination of perceived low pay, disillusionment with management decisions and a dysfunctional culture that values making money over customer service creates unhappy employees at some of America’s best-known corporations. Running a company with dissatisfied workers is hard enough, but the problems are compounded further as the companies find it difficult to hire new, skilled workers when the opinions of current employees are so harsh.

In order to identify America’s worst companies to work for, 24/7 Wall St. examined employee reviews at online job site Glassdoor. To be considered, companies had to have a minimum of 300 reviews. Of the 202 companies that made the initial screen, the company reviews were mixed, with few receiving high scores, few receiving low scores, and the majority of companies getting mediocre scores. Glassdoor’s employee reviews rate the companies on a scale of one to five. Based on these ratings, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 11 publicly traded companies that received the worst scores — a score of 2.7 or lower, putting them in the bottom 10% of the 202 companies we measured.

Nearly all of the companies that received the lowest scores are either in retail or regularly communicate with customers through relatively low-paid workers. And the terrible relationship these companies have with their employees often extends to their clientele as well. Most of the companies on this list are in industries that do poorly on customer satisfaction surveys, including satellite TV, retail and banking. Sears and Dish Network, for example, received among the worst ratings in their sector on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, and RadioShack was listed on MSN’s 2011 Customer Service Hall of Shame.

24/7 Wall St. also looked at the complaints the employees had against the companies to find common trends. By far, disgruntled employees often felt they were not paid enough for their services. This was the case with each of the worst companies. Many workers also believed that promotions were rare, and raises — when they did come — were extremely low. One Bank of New York Mellon employee complained: “In terms of advancement, you’re really limited on mobility outside of the division unless you have a lot of connections. Pay is well below street levels.”

Among the customer-facing companies on the list, another common complaint dealt with company policy strongly emphasizing sales at all costs, frequently at the expense of customer service. This often involved using extremely hard-to-meet performance metrics, such as hourly sales quotas. One complaint from a Dillard’s sales representative read: “A culture of intense, even savage competition amongst employees to fulfill impossible sales quotas and SPH (sales-per-hour) goals that lead to much bad blood and even outright hostility.”

Other common complaints included rude and inconsiderate management, poor training, awful hours — including being required to work holidays — and general mistreatment of employees.

Low employee satisfaction, we first believed, was strictly a function of low pay, long hours and handling large number of customers. But Samantha Zupan of Glassdoor explained that was not a fair way to approach the data. “Customer service is not easy,” she said. “But one size does not fit all. Workers at retailers like Nordstrom and Costco have high work satisfaction.” At these retailers, “It is important for management to connect with employees. Workers get to see management’s values.”

If “connection” with management is a hallmark of employee satisfaction, it is easy to see why workers are n0t satisfied at some of the companies on this list. Some of the corporations, like Hewlett-Packard and Sears Holdings, have had repeated turnover in their corner offices. Notably, almost all of the CEOs of the companies on our list get very low ratings from employees as well.

Another factor shared by many of the companies on this list is the perception that they have been bulldozed into the ground by competitors. RadioShack falls into that category. So do OfficeMax and Dish, which have been overwhelmed by large numbers of rivals.

Finally, most readers will not find the majority of the companies on this list a surprise. Most have been hurt by poor brand perception, years of layoffs, poor sales, bad public relations and falling stock prices. Whatever else may have caused the workers at to turn against their employers, public opinion has not helped.

Also Read: U.S. Companies Hiring the World’s Geniuses

24/7 Wall St. identified the worst companies to work for based on an analysis of company reviews by Glassdoor. We considered the 202 companies on Glassdoor with 300 reviews or more, and identified those that received scores of 2.7 or less. Of the 19 companies that received these low scores, we examined the 11 publicly traded ones. Sears and Kmart, wholly owned subsidiaries of Sears Holdings, were treated as one entity for the purposes of this article. Glassdoor has reviews for 191,081 companies on its site with an average score of 3.1 and a median score of 3. For the 202 companies we examined with at least 300 reviews, the mean score was 3.16, while the median was 3.2.

These are America’s worst companies to work for.

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