Sur La Table
2.5 of 5 162 reviews
www.surlatable.com Seattle, WA 1000 to 5000 Employees

Sur La Table Reviews

Updated Apr 9, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

2.5 162 reviews

                             

30% Approve of the CEO

Sur La Table CEO Jack Schwefel

Jack Schwefel

(96 ratings)

33% of employees recommend this company to a friend
162 Employee Reviews
Relevance Date Rating
in

Review Highlights

Pros:
  • "Great discount on product once you are a full employee"
    in 36 reviews
  • "Everyone tries hard and you can get an employee discount"
    in 19 reviews
Cons:
  • "This allows for the middle management team to look favorably in the eyes of the upper management"
    in 17 reviews
  • "All Sales Associates are part time and management team is full time with Benefits"
    in 8 reviews
  • Show more review highlights

Reviews

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1 person found this helpful  

Sales Associate

Sales Associate (Current Employee)

I have been working at Sur La Table part-time for more than 3 years

ProsVery enjoyable environment to work in. Most every employee is easy going, helpful and friendly. Generous discount. relaxed work flow. Nothing particularly difficult or challenging. great temporary job or great job for people new to retail. Not too difficult to advance. my personal manager is perhaps the best one i have ever had but i dont think all stores are this lucky.

Conslittle to no pay offs. seeing others promoted makes me glad i didn't go for a higher position. company has unrealistic goals with laughable rewards for the amount of knowledge and sales they ask of employees. as far as i hear the pay upgrade from associate to manager isn't significant especially for the stress you get afterwards when you don't meet the unrealistic goals. very often hours are cut. I've worked weeks with only 4.5 hours. sell a $5000 machine? here is a $20 gift card to the store you work at.

Advice to Senior Managementstore associates and even store managers are in the same boat and bare the brunt of the company. Company asks too much of associates who push the CORE sales with often times little to no worth while rewards. why should i struggle to push your sales and beg to get at least 20 hours week to week?

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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7 people found this helpful  

Recipe for a hot mess

Manager (Current Employee)
Seattle, WA

I have been working at Sur La Table full-time for more than 3 years

ProsEveryone tries hard and you can get an employee discount. It can be a lot of fun if you love cooking and kitchen gadgets. Pretty good work-life balance, so you won't be overworked.

ConsIt's all about filling up the cash registers and making the private equity firm that owns them happy. Senior management says one thing one day, one thing the next day, and another thing the day after that. The people in charge only care about being right, not about being better. It's amazing anyone gets anything done. Don't even think about having any ambition or getting more responsibility. Stress and frustration are really high, and there are plenty of crazy people running around trying to take care of something some executive told them to do. It would be funny if it wasn't kind of sad.

Advice to Senior ManagementYou should really figure out why you're doing what you're doing, set some goals, maybe even talk to each other once in a while. Maybe even talk to people who work there who don't have some fancy title. I mean really talk, not tell them what to do. You could even try listening. Don't just do the same thing over and over again and expecting something different to happen. You know what that means right?

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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4 people found this helpful  

A company confused and peppered with unrealistic expectations.

Sales Associate (Current Employee)
Portland, OR

I have been working at Sur La Table part-time for more than a year

ProsGreat employee discount, fun new products and incentives. A company still passionate about food.

Consinconsistent, ever-changing focus. Poor pay, with little room for growth. Incredibly high expectations (I understand this is retail, but unattainable goals do not help create positive moral). Availability requirements, especially of Floor Leads are extreme (even more so given the pay rate). Low hour availability, limited in most cases to some 12-15 hours a week, flexing to 20-23 (NEVER more than 25).

Advice to Senior ManagementThe availability requirements for the Floor Lead position are unrealistic given both the compensation rate and and number of hours commonly scheduled. This position needs significant re-evaluation.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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3 people found this helpful  

Needs to get their act together before becoming irrelevant

Sales Associate (Former Employee)
Los Angeles, CA

I worked at Sur La Table part-time for less than a year

ProsGreat customers, great employees, nice products

ConsHours cut across board every week. No directive for new products placement, no time allocated for given tasks, to keep store clean, with the inclusion of sell sell sell!! Unrealistic daily expectations. Infrastructure is 10yrs old. Company can't even market themselves properly constantly mixed up with WS. Name recognition very low.

Advice to Senior ManagementChange before you guys are the same as the local supermarkets' kitchen aisle. Well trained employees help make the sales not the products. The customers always ask to be educated on even the most basic items. Visual team should be realistic (no PS) and organized. new products should be given placement. De-clutter your shelves & stack-outs (too much distraction), customers always walk past the products they came in for.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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4 people found this helpful  

Has not lived up to expectations.

Sales Associate (Current Employee)
Las Vegas, NV

I have been working at Sur La Table part-time for less than a year

Prosdecent employee discount, fun products, frequent sales incentives.

ConsPoor product training while setting high sales requirements. Too few hours for any income or learn products from other associates.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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Overall good company to work for.

Sales Associate (Former Employee)
Costa Mesa, CA

I worked at Sur La Table part-time for more than a year

ProsGreat discount on product once you are a full employee. 40% off of everything.

ConsFolding towels and napkins. You get them all done and have to do them all over again the next day.

Advice to Senior ManagementGet a new computer system. With people being technologically advanced in today's market, the POS system is outdated and difficult to work with (takes too much time).

Additionally, while I understood capturing customer data, it was pushed so hard that I became a robot so that I didn't forget to ask for something. Maybe find an easier way or loosen up on those standards. Concentrate on being "THE" source for kitchenware knowledge and expertise.

– I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Flexible working schedule with great people and fun atmosphere

Sales Associate (Former Employee)
Dallas, TX

I worked at Sur La Table part-time for more than 3 years

ProsSchedule flexibility, awesome discounts, great cooking learning experiences, fast paced, wonderful customers.

ConsLow pay, even after 4 years. Demanding work expectations that often require physical stamina. Continually changing company policies that can conflict previous policies. Sub standard technology implements to support employee and customer sales experiences.

Advice to Senior ManagementContinue to create incentive plans to employee pay structures. Drastically improve technology platforms across online and in-store point of sale systems.

– I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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4 people found this helpful  

Go! Set. Ready? Wait... What?!

Merchandising (Former Employee)
Seattle, WA

I worked at Sur La Table full-time for more than 3 years

ProsFirst off I love cooking, the products Sur La Table sells, and their cooking classes. Second I worked with wonderfully creative people that were a joy to be with. There are such fun things in the store and customers love them. The company is friendly and has great customer service.

ConsOh, where to begin? it could have been so much better, but like many others have pointed out, there's just so much conflict between teams. I just wanted to do my job, but instead was dragged this way and that, never able to make any progress. Stress was unbearable more often than not. What a disaster headquarters is! Everything is a top priority, all the time. And priorities change from one minute to the next. The VPs are like a bunch of little boys. They are always, always right, doing what's best for themselves without considering for a second how it could affect anyone else. For awhile I thought they would figure things out, but they just constantly fought with each other and everything goes sideways. The rest of us would just have to get out of the way, and then clean up the mess.

Advice to Senior ManagementLearn to act like grown ups and stop competing with each other. You're ruining the company with your egos. Try thinking about people first instead of daily sales numbers for your happy board meetings. Plan something, plan anything, and stick to it.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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3 people found this helpful  

Small corporate environment with micro managers.

IT Professional (Former Employee)
Seattle, WA

I worked at Sur La Table full-time for more than 5 years

ProsSome of the long-term individuals are pleasant to work with and have a lot of knowledge

ConsIn a normal team environment, having multiple personalities and experience levels is a positive. In this is case it is more toxic than beneficial. It starts with the directors who dictate rather than manage. Their ideas and beliefs are the direction of their teams. Ideas from within their teams are not accepted well, if at all. Ideas are perceived as non-conforming. This causes a very dysfunctional team and suppresses employee creativity and participation. There is no team concept, even within each IT area. The team is essentially divided into three areas: Applications, Technical, and QA. There is no cross-team communication or management. This cause’s resource commitment issues and cross team responsibility issues. There are no advancement possibilities within each team. This is not an environment for those individuals who are looking for someone who would be able to mentor and provide opportunities to grow their career and advance to the next level. The middle management team is considered to have a “Yes” management style when working with upper management. They will not listen to the justifications or feedback from their teams but rather answer to the direction and demands of senior management, without considerations of the ramifications. Because of this, the demands of projects are unreasonable and cause the staff to work unreasonable hours. Quality and functionality usually suffer due to the demands of the directors. The majority of the team works over 50 plus hours a week and many times on weekends. This is the result of poor resource management and project planning by the directors. People are busy, but this is because they cannot work efficiently or effectively due to poor project management. Yearly merit increases and compensation are minimal, especially for a company that makes a profit every year. This is true for everyone, unless you are one of the lucky individuals included in the inner circle or management team. Those individuals will receive the majority of the raises and discretionary salary adjustments. As mentioned earlier, management style is to manage up with a “yes” mentality. Then, when there are project issues or failures, the management style is to push down to the individuals they manage or outside influences, such as vendors. Essentially, issues and complications are deflected from the directors. Extremely poor program and project management is the norm. There is no PMO or project methodology in place. They use the terms but there is no concrete system in place. They manage projects on an individual basis and with no practiced methodology. This project management style leads to the majority of the projects to implement unsuccessfully or to be shelved. Projects that are implemented are delivered late and with cost overruns. Again, the issues are reported to upper management as team/individual limitations or vendor misrepresentations or lack of commitment. Current IT staff is approximately 28 individuals, including the help desk. Within the last two years there has been a turnover of approximately 18 individuals, with another 3-5 currently looking for other opportunities outside the company. This is considered high turnover and impacts team building, trust, knowledge, career growth and cohesiveness. The only level that has not been impacted in the last two to three years is at the management and director level. Some of the turnover were by individuals who left after working only one year or less. The management is not qualified to be in the position they are responsible. They are glorified entry level managers with little to no management experience. They are micro-managers that like to be involved at the detail level rather than empower and believe in their employees. They are involved with the new technologies and opportunities rather than delegate these opportunities to their teams. They are very opinionated and run their teams similar to a dictatorship. They have their favorites on each team and will listen to them, but ultimately, they manage and direct based on their beliefs. Some of the team member conform and are looked upon favorably. Many times the directors voice their opinion based on previous experience, relevant or not, rather than listening to what business is expressing. Nepotism is huge within the department, with almost 40% of the team members having worked together in the past. At times the management team tries to act like they care and are there for their team, but it is infrequent and not credible or genuine. A lot of what they perceive as a positive gestures is just a matter of going through the motions with no substance behind it. Training is not an option within the most of the department, either due to budget constraints or lack of scheduling. If you are looking for an opportunity that will provide you with career growth and advancement, this is not the environment for you. Relationships with the business are strained. The interaction with the business is in a degrading and condescending way. Sometimes even patronizing. Instead of working in a partnership, they tell the business what they need and how systems should be configured and implemented. They make promises to deliver but rarely deliver what was agreed upon. There is no management 360 review process in place, so there is no feedback opportunity unless you approach the HR team. This allows for the middle management team to look favorably in the eyes of the upper management. They are your typical company structure where upper management supports and believes the middle management team and then places the blame on the employees. Thus one of the reasons for the high turnover rate within IT. If the middle management team were to be replaced by competent and knowledgeable individuals, the success of the team would dramatically change. There is no vision within the department or the company. The use the same statements year in and year out: Open stores, grow the internet, and grow the culinary business. There is no concrete plan or substance behind the ideas and eventually they will not be successful moving forward. The management team in place does not have the experience or knowledge to take this company to the next level. They have been riding the success of the past and natural growth of a company its size. I would not recommend working within the IT department at Sur La Table.

Advice to Senior ManagementListen to your people, en-power your employees, receive training on management principles,

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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A leader in spite of one-dimensional marketing

Assistant Store Manager (Former Employee)

I worked at Sur La Table full-time for more than 3 years

ProsEmployee discount of 40%
Excellent product selection
Still focused on providing good support to existing customers
A chance for California employees to earn extra $$$ through class action settlements

ConsHours are managed so tightly and poorly in many locations that legally required breaks are not always provided, so if you work in California you may receive hundreds of dollars in legal settlements if you stick around long enough.
Stores are super-full of merchandise for 90% of the year, making it very difficult to setup according to the instructions from marketing (and when you don't comply, upper management is very unkind with their feedback). This is worse as special seasons approach as the warehouse will send you all of your season's merchandise in a single shipment.
Upper management is very numbers focused, so District Managers who lack people skills can still get rewarded as long as their stores make their numbers.
Their singular focus on marketing through catalogs makes "attaching the sale" to a customer in their database vitally important; however, if an existing customer is not in your store's local database the process takes way too long.
The busiest stores shift their receiving to overnight shifts for the holidays - this is exceptionally hard on year-round associates.

Advice to Senior ManagementDo skip-level reviews with store associates - ask if the DM even knows their name (or has bothered to say hello)

– I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Sur La Table – Why Work for Us?

​​ In 1972, the first Sur La Table opened its doors in Seattle's Pike Place Market. Everyone from novice home cooks to professional chefs found a surprising selection of culinary tools from around the world—with plenty… Full Overview

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