Dish Network: The Meanest Employer In America?
It isn't clear why Dish Network Corp. wants to spend $2.4 billion to gobble up Clearwire Corp. and its desirable chunk of high-speed wireless network capacity. But Clearwire employees have ample reason to hope the deal won't go through, seeing as there's no shortage of Dish employees who find the Colorado-based satellite-TV provider, "impossible to work for."
That's the assessment of one supposed former technical representative, who posted the comment on Glassdoor.com four days ago. It mirrors hundreds of other, similar reviews. The critique also notes that Dish "is constantly hiring due to their draconian policies and heavy-handedness."
Of the 531 comments recently posted on the employer-review website about Dish, more than 400 former or current employees describe themselves as either "dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied" with the company.
The company's tightfisted workplace policies include such things as long work hours, a lack of paid holidays and a requirement that employees check-in using their fingerprints rather than electronic badges, the technology on which many employers today rely, according to Bloomberg.
As Bloomberg's report notes:
"Badges used to be the preferred method of entry into the building. But a few years ago, after noticing that some employees were taking advantage of the system by having others badge-in for them, then-CEO Charles W. Ergen (shown above) upgraded to fingerprint scanners. If a worker is late, an email is immediately sent to human resources, which then sends another to that person's boss, and sometimes directly to Ergen."
It's just such policies in addition to an overburdening air of intimidation that led Bloomberg to label Dish the "Meanest Company in America."
Bloomberg says that one employee who sought counsel from a manager was simply told to quit. "You're part of a poisonous environment. ... go find a job where you can use your talents for good rather than evil," he reportedly said.
Much of the blame for the toxic work environment has been laid at the feet of Ergen, 59, who helped found the company 17 years ago and remains its chairman. Though he turned over the reins of day-to-day management to Joseph Clayton in 2011, Ergen is still a looming presence and is Dish's largest shareholder, holding more than half of all of its shares.
Bloomberg estimates Ergen's wealth at more than $11 billion, making him among the world's richest people. His total compensation from Dish last year was $958,441.
Former Dish President John Reardon described Ergen's management style as uncompromising, Bloomberg quotes another former president, Michael Neuman, as saying. Ergen "pound[ed] people into submission," said Neuman, who was most irked by Ergen's habit of making decisions unilaterally.
The endemic morale problem doesn't appear to have hurt the company's stock performance, as BusinessInsider notes. Dish has been successful, even as other pay TV operators struggle, and has beaten analysts' earnings estimates in five of the past eight quarters.
That's likely cold comfort for the Glassdoor reviewer who wrote that Dish simply doesn't care about its employees, adding, "Upper management just cares about the numbers."
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David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.
Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.
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