America's Worst Companies to Work For

dish_networkFor the second year in a row, 24/7 Wall St. has identified America’s worst companies to work for. While company management can improve employee satisfaction, most of the companies on our list continue to make workers miserable.

In order to identify America’s worst companies to work for, 24/7 Wall St. examined employee reviews at jobs and career community site Glassdoor. Based on the reviews, Glassdoor scores companies on a scale of one to five with an average score of 3.2 for the over 250,000 companies measured. 24/7 Wall St. identified the nine publicly traded companies that received scores of 2.5 or lower.

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Certain industries appear more likely to have lower employee satisfaction than others. Four of the companies on this list — Dillard’s Inc. (NYSE: DDS), Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD), Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG) and RadioShack Corp. (NYSE: RSH) — are in retail. The majority of the others provide services that require installation and repair. These include companies like home security system provider The ADT Corporation (NYSE: ADT), transaction technology company NCR Corp. (NYSE: NCR), and satellite television provider DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH).

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Glassdoor spokesperson Samantha Zupan noted that some of the companies are not a surprise. “When I looked at Radioshack reviews there is a commonality within the reviews where people are talking about customer service and [employees] have a tough time dealing with the customers.” 

On the other hand, Zupan pointed out that other companies in the retail sector, like Costco and Nordstom’s, “get rated very highly by their employees.” There are certain things that employers can do to make a job better for employees. Zupan notes that training, “knowing how to deal with different customers and different issues,” and higher compensation are both important to employees.

Not surprisingly, employees most often complained about low wages and poor benefits. Many noted that they were paid even less than the already-low industry average for their job. Benefits, if the company provided any, were either difficult to afford or inadequate.

While some employees at all levels were unhappy, complaints at these companies were disproportionately from sales representatives, customer service agents and technicians. These were generally lower-paid, front-line workers dealing directly with customers.

Issues with middle management were universal among the employees of these companies, but the types of complaints varied. Depending on the company, employees felt they were micromanaged, treated unfairly or like children, or asked to meet extreme demands.

Several of the companies on this list have failed to find a clear path to boost their sales and earnings. RadioShack has attempted to revitalize its brand multiple times by focusing on different strategies and metrics. Employees have seen the electronics retailer change its priorities so often they view these moves skeptically. Other companies have been stubborn and have not pursued any major changes despite overwhelming evidence that they should. Compared to other retailers, Sears Holdings invests little in its stores, a fact that bothers many of its employees.

Employees at poorly-rated companies tend to have low opinions of senior management. The average CEO rating across the companies measured by Glassdoor is 69%, according to Zupan. The majority of the worst-reviewed companies had CEO approval ratings of 40% or less. Only 23% of Dillard’s employees approved of CEO Bill Dillards II’s management. Sears Holdings CEO Eddie Lampert earned 19% approval.

Another attribute shared by many of the companies on this list is the perception that they have been overwhelmed by larger, better-equipped competitors. RadioShack falls into that category. It cannot effectively compete with, or even Best Buy. This is also true for Sears Holdings, which owns Sears and Kmart and competes with Walmart and Target. Dish, which competes with AT&T and large cable companies, faces a similar problem.

In order to identify America’s worst companies to work for, 24/7 Wall St. examined employee reviews at Glassdoor To be considered, companies had to have a minimum of 300 reviews. Of the more than 300 companies with more than 300 comments, 24/7 Wall St. identified the nine publicly traded companies that received the worst scores — 2.5 or lower. This year, Sears Holdings and subsidiary Kmart made the cut independently — both scores are included. These are the worst companies to work for.

These are America’s worst companies to work for.

> Rating: 2.3
> Number of reviews: 831
> CEO approval rating: 40% (Joseph Clayton)
> Employees: 35,000

DISH has the unfortunate distinction of topping the list for the second year in a row. DISH shares many of the hallmarks of companies despised by their workers. With 14 million subscribers in a market with a great deal of competition, the number of customer complaints is large. Consumer surveys demonstrate the magnitude of the problem. DISH ranked behind AT&T’s U-verse, direct competitor DirecTV, and Verizon Fios in the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index.

DISH’s management is regarded as so inconsiderate to employees, customers, and shareholders that Businessweek recently called it “The Meanest Company In America” and blamed long-time chief Charlie Ergen as the primary cause.

In reviews at Glassdoor, employees regularly complained about very poor pay despite their difficult work in unpleasant conditions. By far, the most common criticisms were the low salaries relative to the type of work and very poor benefits. One manager on Glassdoor said that he had never seen employees treated so poorly. “The benefits are pitiful and the salaries are not current with industry — I should know as I work in a [department] that sees the salaries.”

2. Express Scripts
> Rating: 2.3
> Number of reviews: 312
> CEO approval rating: 36% (George Paz)
> Employees: 30,215

Express Scripts Holding Company (NASDAQ: ESRX) is one of America’s largest managers of prescription drugs services, with tens of millions of customers and thousands of clients. And after buying Medco Health Solutions last year, the company fills over 1.4 billion prescriptions per year, as of 2012. Express Scripts began a major workforce consolidation that included layoffs after it closed the deal in early 2012. Customer relations were roiled when Walgreen stopped accepting Express Scripts’ prescription plan.

In the most recent JD Power rating of online pharmacies, Express Scripts ranked fifth behind Kaiser Permanente, Aetna Rx, Caremark, and Cigna Home Delivery, with the Medco branded service even further down the list. Both Express Scripts and the Medco brand showed particular weaknesses in prescription delivery and customer service.

Like consumers, employees were also dissatisfied with the company. They felt pressured to reach key metrics and often complained that reaching these numbers was more important to the business than adequate customer service, or employee well-being. As a result, many employees felt overworked, and a too-heavy workload was the most common complaint. One aggrieved employee wrote that the company gives “the appearance of a work/life balance … but the truth is everyone is overworked.”

Also Read: What Americans Do When Not at Work

3. Dillard’s
> Rating: 2.3
> Number of reviews: 560
> CEO approval rating: 23% (Bill Dillard II)
> Employees: 27,740

Dillard’s Department Stores is run and controlled by the Dillard family. Dillard’s has about 300 stores in 29 states. It operates in a highly competitive environment, which includes Kohl’s, Macy’s and J.C. Penney. In the last quarter, Dillard’s sales did not grow at all. Dillard’s is not only competing with larger retailers but also with, which has already driven several companies out of existence. In the meantime, Mike, William, and Alex Dillard receive large salaries — a total of $54 million over the course of the last three years.

Many Dillard’s employees griped about their hours and pay. They also complained about sales-per-hour targets. These targets, employees said, were unreasonable and led to intense competition among co-workers. “Lower level employees are faceless numbers to many members of upper management and are treated like pawns in a chess game,” one commenter wrote.

4. Dollar General
> Rating: 2.4
> Number of reviews: 375
> CEO approval rating: 43% (Rick Dreiling)
> Employees: 90,500

Dollar General, a discount retailer, calls itself the nation’s “largest small box retailer” with over 10,000 stores. However, that does not keep it safe from competition from huge big box companies, particularly Walmart and Target. Like other mid-sized retailers, Dollar General has struggled to prop up its bottom line, with net income virtually flat in its last reported quarter. In the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index, Dollar General ranked behind Nordstrom, Kohl’s, and even the struggling J.C. Penney.

Workers at Dollar General regularly complained they were unable to work the hours they desired, while many store managers were overworked. Yet, as one former worker noted, many employees “are expected to have full availability, even out of season, meaning NO second jobs.”

In addition to complaints about the limited hours, many reviewers mentioned the problem of theft. Some workers stated that employees steal, while others highlighted customer theft as a major concern. One sales associate noted that stores are targeted for theft, but “Dollar General believes its ‘shrink’ is caused mostly by employees.”

5. RadioShack
> Rating: 2.4
> Number of reviews: 868
> CEO approval rating: 38% (Joseph Magnacca)
> Employees: 34,500

In yet another turnaround attempt by ancient consumer electronics retailer RadioShack, new CEO Joe Magnacca said he wants to revamp stores and change the merchandising strategy. It is hard to work for a company that is generally considered to be without prospects. RadioShack has just over 4,700 stores. The company also sponsors the RadioShack Leopard bicycle team, which has recently participated in the Tour de France. That sponsorship money might have gone to low-paid RadioShack retail employees.

“Radioshack constantly changes their focus because they are a struggling company,” one commenter wrote. “Basically you’ll be fighting real hard for one sales aspect and get told a month later that it doesn’t matter anymore and that everyone is a failure.” Recent reviewers have pointed out that management is placing intense pressure on employees to sell mobile phones. An assistant manager noted that this results in “having to foist services onto customers that realistically would not benefit from them.”

The company’s middle- and upper-level management was a target for many of the complaints. Reviewers noted that district and regional managers come up with sales quotas that seem arbitrary. Another frequent complaint was that managers play favorites among associates and store managers. Comments about Radio Shack also include complaints about pay below competitors, and strenuous and irregular hours.

6. ADT
> Rating: 2.4
> Number of reviews: 309
> CEO approval rating: 55% (Naren Gursahaney)
> Employees: 16,000

ADT is a security company for both residential and business properties with 6.4 million customers. Many of these customers are homeowners who bought an ADT system for as little as $35.99 a month. Much of ADT’s initial contact with customers is handled through its dealers who install ADT security systems. ADT currently has roughly 400. Even with dealers, the burden on the system is considerable. ADT claims it answers 19 million alarm signals a year.

Employees at ADT regularly complained about weak, disorganized management that treated them poorly and micromanaged. Several reviewers complained about the quality of the sales training, noting that the company appeared to expect new employees to figure things out on their own.

Based on the reviews, ADT appears to focus on getting new clients at the expense of both employees and existing customers, with one representative noting that the decision makers “could care less about customers after sale.”

Also Read: America’s Most Wasteful Companies

7. Sears Holdings (Sears/ KMart)
> Rating: 2.5
> Number of reviews: 583
> CEO approval rating: 19% (Eddie Lampert)
> Employees: 274,000

Sears Holdings, which owns both Sears and Kmart, has been effectively run by hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert since it was created by a merger in 2005. Over the intervening period, Lampert has gone through several CEOs and made a name for himself as the greatest bumbler in the U.S. retail industry. Impatient after years of failure, he took the CEO job himself.

Lampert has made a great deal of his decision to use technology as a way to track customer needs as well as his closing of stores and brands. Sears Holdings ranked next to last in customer service in ACSI’s retail category, ahead of only Walmart. Kmart has been the weaker of the company’s two divisions based on same-store sales, although each is in a state of hopeless decline.

Employees at Sears and Kmart felt just as poorly about the company’s performance as Wall Street. They noted that the chains have lost their identity and suffer from morale issues. Other common concerns, especially at Sears stores, were the limited availability of work hours and constant pressure to convince customers to open new credit cards. Employees also complained about wages. One employee noted that while the company was updating its technology, raises were extremely rare.

Many employees believed the company would be better off investing more resources in the company’s locations. A recent report by Businessweek highlighted that Sears and Kmart fell well short of their peers in investing in their stores.

8. NCR
> Rating: 2.5
> Number of reviews: 385
> CEO approval rating: 39% (Bill Nuti)
> Employees: 25,700

NCR makes self-checkout machines, ATMs, and airport self-service kiosks. NCR claims that its technologies are used in 300 million transactions a day that facilitate everyday transactions and “make your life easier.” Many employees are involved with the sales, installation and repair of relatively low-level tech systems for cinemas, bank deposit machines, retail restaurant terminals, and similar products for the travel, telecom, and department store industries.

Employees noted that much of the technology was out of date, and that the company still required them to carry around cumbersome manuals. Others complained about poor benefits. One of the most common problems was that the company often demanded a full-time commitment. One former data processor noted an “expectation that [employees] are available to work 24/7.”

9. Fiserv
> Rating: 2.5
> Number of reviews: 440
> CEO approval rating: 40% (Jeffery Yabuki)
> Employees: 20,000

Fiserv provides information management and e-commerce products to the financial services industry. Fiserv’s primary clients are banks, credit unions, and brokers. Fiserv has completed more than 140 mergers and acquisition transactions since its was founded in 1984, according to Morningstar. It is not so much a company as a collection of assets. This method of building a corporation is often accompanied by a certain number of layoffs and paranoia about job security.

A number of commenters noted that the company provided minimal training for employees and that senior staff was unresponsive to employee concerns on the job. The company is comprised of many different acquisitions, reviewers noted, which has led to factions feuding for resources and attention, which in turn has lowered morale. “Don’t mess with the old school ‘clique’ or you can screw up advancement opportunities,” an employee wrote.

A common theme among many Glassdoor reviews also seems to be that the company is needlessly stingy. Low pay and paltry raises were frequent gripes, and several employees also expressed frustration about less-than-stellar health benefits. Failing to remember the last time they saw a doctor, one reviewer said, “The deductible is so high that they might as well not ever offer it.”

Also Read: The Best Cities for High-Tech Jobs

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