The Worst Companies to Work for: What a Recent Report Tells Us

The best companies to work for have customized development plans, supportive managers, effective incentives, and opportunities for advancement, among other attributes. What do the worst companies to work for have (or lack)? USA Today recently shared findings of a report the Wall Street Journal did in which it analyzed employer rankings posted to the site, Glassdoor.

An analysis of the report, published in USA Today, offers insights into what employees consider problems, among them poor work-life balance. When you think of your company’s culture, how does work-life balance stack up as a priority? I had a friend years ago who worked at a recruiting firm. She shared with me that applicants who express a desire for “work-life balance” were considered to have a strike against them. This was more than 10 years ago. Have things changed? Or is it still that way at your company—that an applicant who expresses a desire for work-life balance would be less likely to be hired?

Of course, all the work-life balance in the world doesn’t matter if you feel under-paid. That brings me to another question: How do you determine fair pay for each position at your company? Is it a matter of the market and economics, or a matter of employee perception? If your market analysis shows the local job market pays an average of $50,000 for a particular position, but the employees who are in that position feel under-paid, do you have a problem? If you discover this perception among your employees, what do you do? It may be that the average company pays $50,000 for the position, but that, based on their interactions with colleagues at other companies, the employees are doing more work than the average person in their kind of position.

Executive disenchantment is another reason some employees are dissatisfied with their employer. I remember hearing at a former company that the CEO would make a $100 million bonus if he made the financial goals set for him by the board of directors. With many layoffs, and an ungenerous salary given to most of the employees I knew, this made me angry. Regardless of his financial feats, I didn’t feel he would ever deserve $100 million. Instead of giving him the fat bonus, why not raise everyone’s salaries by a certain percentage if the company met its financial goals? Does your company do something similar—offer huge incentive packages to top executives while keeping salaries low for a large swath of the company’s employees? One of the reasons employees may have an angry attitude is they’ve caught on to the practice and feel they are being taken advantage of, or even stolen from. How do you fix this situation?

Another theme of companies ranked low by employees is pessimism about the company’s future. I remember a former company I worked for—where I began my career in my first full-time job—reminded me of working in an orphanage. Everything was old in the office, and there were no perks other than the occasional gratis end-of-day drinks. When I moved to my next company, and I was treated to a holiday party in a venue outside the office with a generous buffet, I thought I had won the lottery. What modest perks and niceties can you offer employees to give them a sense of plenty? One reason an employee may not have hope for the future of a company is because the company’s belt-tightening measures are so severe. How do you balance fiscal responsibility with enough luxury to keep employees hopeful that you have the means to invest not just in their salary and benefits, but in growing the company itself?

Not surprisingly, unhappy employees don’t tend to recommend their employer to friends—but may do so to “frenemies,” right? That’s a problem in recruitment, as many a valuable employee can be found from a high-performing employee recommending a friend for the job. If you know one employee is capable and well liked, you get a sense of security when that highly valued person suggests another candidate he or she personally endorses for a job. This leads to a fundamental problem with companies employees don’t like working for—an inability to grow. There’s a pact you make with employees: They fulfill their duties well, sometimes working above and beyond what you initially asked them to do, and you treat them well, meaning pay them sufficiently and make them feel they have a high quality of work life. What happens when you don’t fulfill your end of the bargain? Employees will leave when they can, and, worse yet, they’ll tell their friends not to give you a chance.

What do you do to secure a high level of performance for your customers while keeping employees happy and engaged at the same time?




Training magazine is the industry standard for professional development and news for training, human resources and business management professionals in all industries.