We found an article by 24/7 Wall St and Time from June 25, 2014, titled "America's Worst Companies to Work For." 24/7 analyzed ratings by employees from the site Glassdoor.com and looked at the lowest eleven public companies. The companies in the lowest were rated for a variety of reasons that we will explore below.
We are going to look at the four lowest rated companies. In particular, we will pay close attention to employee engagement practices like volunteering or matching employee donations as these have several benefits like improving company morale and increasing retention rates.
- If a company has a poor Glassdoor.com rating, then they most likely do not have any employee engagement activities, as we believe a company missing these activities is not listening to employees' needs today.
4. Jos A. Bank Clothiers
Glassdoor.com Rating: 2.3 (317 reviews)
Common employee complaints: long hours, complicated commission system, constant price changes in products.
Online evidence: The company does not list any community connection pieces on their website, but we were able to find a few charitable contributions through some digging:
- Since 1995, they have raised money for Hopkin's Children's Center working with pediatric patients to create unique ties that they then sell and are under the "Miracle Collection." They currently only have one style of Miracle Tie available for sale online.
- Free suits to veterans in 2013 (partnering with the Gary Sinise Foundation)
- An article from Carroll Magazine in 2011 states several initiatives Jos A. Bank does in the community, including giving a turkey to every employee. The employee can choose to donate to Hampstead Food Bank.
On their employee benefits site, they do not mention the program of giving employees turkeys or anything in regards to volunteering or connecting with the community. We reached out to Jos A. Bank and have not received a reply.
Recommendation to Improve Employee Engagement: With the community involvement Jos A Bank does, better promotion of these activities and services so they are more visible is important for employees and customers.
Glassdoor.com Rating: 2.3 (306 reviews)
Common employee complaints: layoffs, lagging behind competitors in technology
Online evidence: Unlike with Jos A. Bank, we were able to find several different initiatives this telecom service company did in 2014:
- In June, Frontier Communications Summer Interns volunteered with the United Way.
- Two months ago, they initiated a "Mistletoe Challenge" to raise money for the US Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program.
- Frontier Communications donated over $300,000 to North Myrtle Beach for additions to their new athletic facility.
Recommendation to Improve Employee Engagement: We suggest more volunteer opportunities for all employees to be involved. Frontier Communications received great press for their work with the United Way. However, to receive even more benefits of staff volunteering in the community, allow all employees to volunteer. This can actually improve their efficiency at work, work better as a team, and perhaps develop new ideas.
2. Express Scripts
Glassdoor.com Rating: 2.2 (646 reviews)
Common employee complaints: very poor work-life balance
Online evidence: Interestingly, as we move down to the worst company to work for in 2014, the more organized each company appears to be with its CSR as we find on the Express Scripts website with their "Expressing Comm-UNITY" and "Employee Giving" pages (although, these pages have not been updated since 2012). With Express Scripts being a pharmacy, the programs are focused on health, youth, and the community as a whole. Each initiative has a specific target and positive impacts are being seen.
Recommendation to Improve Employee Engagement: It appears Express Scripts gives employees opportunities to be involved with their customers, but given that most employees complained about the work-life balance Express Scripts could look to restructure employee time so its staff can enjoy connecting to the community and not be as stressed about work.
Glassdoor.com Rating: 2.0 (302 reviews)
Common employee complaints: high stress and low pay (commission based structure)
- Books for Troops: Customers can purchase books that Books-A-Million will send to troops and their families overseas. Over 35,000 books were purchased and sent across the globe last year.
- Donation requests: Books-A-Million donates to schools and non-profits.
We could not find any information in regards to employee engagement. We emailed Books-A-Million and have not received a reply.
Recommendation to Improve Employee Engagement: As with Jos A. Bank, businesses that have their sales employees on a commission-based structure can cause major stress. Even employees that perform well can have their schedules change with just one bad week. We believe that if Books-A-Million allowed one paid day per year for employees to go to schools and either deliver books or read to a classroom. It will be a stress-free and inspire staff as they have just seen the positive impacts their work brings.
Clearly our hypothesis was false as even the "worst" companies to work for do something with the community and some have employee volunteer programs.
For all these companies, they need to find the core of the issues these employees identify and find a way to reconfigure some of their practices. Employee engagement activities, particularly those around CSR, should be used as a tool to reinforce company values, connect with its customers & community, and reenergize staff.
We also learned about some fun initiatives these companies are doing and many that anyone can take a part of.
Brian Phipps is the Founder and a Strategist at Confluence in Denver, Colorado that consults small and mid-size businesses to increase their positive impacts and community connections in their corporate giving and social responsibility practices. To find out more go to www.ConfluenceLLC.com.