Overstock.com

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Company has Strong Potential for Growth but Weighed Down by Terrible Senior Management

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Career Opportunities
Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Salt Lake City, UT
Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Salt Lake City, UT

Pros

The Corporate Office is in a great location. There are scenic views of the Wasatch Mountains from the building with great hiking and skiing just a short drive away.

PTO is given when needed. The company does a good job respecting the personal lives of the employees. I’ve never had trouble taking time off, even on short notice.
The IT departments in the company do promote based on experience and you can be rewarded for hard work when positions above you become available.

The company has a fairly loose internet policy and you are allowed to use YouTube or view other websites in your downtime. This has the potential for abuse, but very few websites are actually blocked from employees.

Many midlevel managers are friendly and care about their employees and the quality of the work environment within their departments. They have limited power to solve problems but they will listen to your concerns.

Overstock supports artisans from around the world by promoting their goods through the Worldstock program.

Cons

The CEO believes employees will work better when there is no barrier to communication. In most departments, this means that desks are crammed together back to back and side to side with no cubicle walls or privacy of any kind. In some areas there are over 100 employees in a single room. Employee screens are visible to anyone who cares to look. The open air workplace is incredibly noisy and distracting with no barriers to overhearing nearby phone calls, conversations, or meetings. This environment is a huge detriment to productivity.

Overstock spends a lot of time on side businesses such as selling cars, vacations, or insurance which are often added to the business plan only to be cancelled shortly thereafter. The problem is not that these are terrible ideas but that they are poorly planned and not properly supported once implemented. Once started, the focus quickly shifts to the next big idea leaving the last one to flounder until it is quietly killed and removed from the website. While these side projects don’t affect the jobs of most employees, they are expensive to implement which directly affects the amount of money in the bonus and raise pool. Some of the recent projects cost millions of dollars yet were cancelled before even appearing on the website.

The CEO and the SVPs have far too much power to push through projects in the company. If one of the executives has an idea, it will be implemented without being seriously vetted. Employees with expertise in their field are routinely ignored in favor of gut hunches from the executives. Those who suggest that an idea might not be in the best interest of the company usually do not last long, sometimes leaving of their own accord but oftentimes fired for some small offense. The fear of vindictive reprisals results in employees just doing what they are told to do without offering any suggestions, regardless of any knowledge that could improve the project.

Overstock suffers from nepotism, with many managers, directors, and especially SVPs promoted based on how well they are liked rather than their experience. This has resulted in some exceptionally inept management. Because most of the SVPs have no prior executive experience, they continue to manage as if they were still team leads. Executive micromanagement of projects is a rampant problem throughout the company. It is not at all uncommon for SVPs or even the CEO to assign projects directly to an employee, often with unrealistic deadlines and no regard for whether that project even relates to the employee’s work responsibilities.

Despite repeated claims to the contrary, the senior management at Overstock does not value the input of its workforce. Employees have been repeatedly told to keep constructive criticism to themselves, especially if it relates to a project that an executive is involved with. Employees who offer opinions, regardless of how well supported they may be, are usually removed from working on the project and sometimes fired. Employees are scared to give honest feedback and instead resort to giving false praise to obviously doomed projects to preserve their jobs. This causes many projects that could have been saved (or killed if warranted) in the early stages to fail after deployment.

There are also a wide variety of subjects employees are repeatedly told not to ever discuss in any way, including the stock price (due to the CEO’s belief that outside forces are manipulating it to make it appear less valuable), lawsuits against the CEO or company, criticism of the CEO’s website deepcapture.com, or complaints about the CEO’s attack dog walking unleashed around the building and frightening employees. Occasionally a new employee will unknowingly mention one of these subjects and will be quickly told never to do so again.

Most employees that I’ve spoken with view the company as a resume builder but not as a place for long term employment. The average turn over time is very short with employees of as little as two or three years being viewed as the seasoned workforce. Most employees leave within 18 months, even on the VP level. There have been 15 VPs in the marketing department alone over the last four years. This volatility results in a lack of overall focus as each VP has had a different view of the direction the department should follow. Employees are often shifted around between teams that need more people to support the new VP’s vision with little regard to the employee’s skill. Within six months of their hiring dates, most employees have changed desks and teams more than once, usually without any change in compensation. In addition to the volatility, there is little incentive for employees to stay as tenure does not come with increases to salary or PTO allotment and the company’s 401k matching policy is so poor that departing employees lose very little by not waiting to become fully vested. I would not recommend Overstock as a good place to work.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

The executive micromanagement and nepotism need to stop. They are causing the company’s potential growth to stagnate at best and are contributing to a decline at worst. Rather than promoting the employees that are the most fun to party with, hire people that have expertise in their fields and then actually listen to and follow their advice rather than your own uninformed gut feelings. There are good ideas from within the workforce. Listen to what employees have to say and don’t view constructive criticism as hostile.

Stop spending money on side businesses unless there is an actual plan in place to bring them to success. We are not an insurance company and unless we plan on hiring some employees who know anything about running an insurance company, we should probably stop trying to sell insurance. The employees work hard and deserve to be rewarded for their efforts and it is incredibly frustrating to us to not receive bonuses or raises due to the budget shortfalls caused by the failures of expensive projects that are far outside of the company’s core competency. We are great at selling bed, bath, and garden items. Let’s focus on expanding that and stop trying to be a real estate company, car dealership, insurance broker, and travel agency unless we’re prepared to support those areas with knowledgeable employees.

Doesn't Recommend
Disapproves of CEO

Other reviews for Overstock.com

  1.  

    It's been an interesting roller-coaster ride

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Supervisor  in  Salt Lake City, UT
    Current Employee - Supervisor in Salt Lake City, UT

    Pros

    Some of the Management team here are among the most highly respected people I know.
    I feel I always know where I stand with my manager, any problems I have can be brought up objectively and corrected quickly, this even extends to my boss's bosses: It's really nice working with people you can trust to make the right decisions in a timely fashion.

    Cons

    There are some departments that are disconnected with the others; there are some major communications break-downs that occur every once in a while (and one case where there is too much communication between individuals, this is more of a lapse in professionalism on the part of the Rep than the associate, there appears to be a downgrade in the quality of services he provides). I believe this can be traced back to specific individuals, however, there are usually other subordinates ready to take up the slack so day-to-day performance has rarely been impacted.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The issues detailed above seem to be in the stages of being addressed; Any advice I could offer would fall under the category of, "Stuff I Already Know".

    The Management team remains one of the most approachable groups of individuals I have encountered, they provide positive feedback and understandable critiques. I feel my work is recognized by my manager, by other managers and by their bosses; the praise and incentives provided (catered work parties for Mardi Gras [complete with parade and improvised floats?!], Cinco De Mayo , Independence Day, etc...) for quality work have been pretty steady and it still never ceases to amaze me how appreciated I feel at O.co.

    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Working at Overstock.com has had many ups and downs.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Shipping Supervisor  in  Salt Lake City, UT
    Current Employee - Shipping Supervisor in Salt Lake City, UT

    Pros

    The upper management really cares about their associates. They have many incentives such as parties and gift cards. They really worry about their associates well being.

    Cons

    Soemtimes the associates are pushed so much to hit benchmark they just end up quitting.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
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