- Work/Life Balance
- Culture & Values
- Career Opportunities
- Comp & Benefits
- Senior Management
I worked at Cree full-time
Really the only pro is that a weird work schedule allows you to run errands on days when nobody else is doing the same. That and I guess the pay was good for fresh out of college.
Let's run down the ratings list:
Career Opportunities, 2 stars - There were two people in my group (entry-level engineers) that got "promoted", which basically meant that they worked days (8am-6pm) instead of nights (2pm-midnight) and had more responsibility. I also saw at least three or four people leave the company during my time, and one of my coworkers was explicitly told that he would still be on nightshift after 5 years of work.
Compensation & Benefits, 4 stars - listed above as a "pro", but I want to mention here that it does not make up for all the other terrible things about this job.
Work/Life Balance, 1 star - this has to be the absolute worst; wish I could give it zero or negative stars. As mentioned in "Career Opportunities", entry level engineers start on nightshift, which is 2pm-midnight, but wait there's more! You also either work a Sunday-Thursday shift or a Tuesday-Saturday. I was stuck with working 2pm-midnight on Tue-Sat for 19 months and I was having suicidal thoughts toward the end. I made no friends outside of work (was new to the area) because I was working when normal people were out. The company also doesn't believe in holidays (although working one gives you an extra PTO day), and if you want to take time off you have to find someone to cover for you. Worst experience of my life.
Senior Management, 1 star - I never had a good face-to-face interaction with any of my bosses. They treat you like a cog in the machine that never stops running.
Culture and Values, 1 star - You will work all. the. time. The company has a need to run continuously, 24/7/365, which means that if you didn't specifically ask for vacation time, you can be called at any time while not at work to come in and fix something. The mindset is work, work, work. Forget about friends, forget about family, forget about mental health, your job is to add value to the company. I'd never felt worse in my life. I dreaded going in to work at least twice a week, sometimes every day. Some days I just wanted to die.
Also, they fired me to cut costs in the department, and their stock price has been consistently at least 15% lower than when I left (a year and a half ago), which gives me great pleasure. They run their employees into the ground, so their company should go down in flames.
Advice to Management
ENGINEERS ARE NOT OPERATORS, PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE LIVES OUTSIDE OF WORK
I worked at Cree (Less than a year)
Regular pay check, nothing else.
No R&D done at this position.
Advice to Management
I worked at Cree (More than 3 years)
Good place to work. opportunity to work on various projects.
No room for promotions in the company
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I have been working at Cree full-time (Less than a year)
They offer a starting of 5 weeks paid vacation
They are very distant corporate wise to their employees.
Advice to Management
I have no advice to management of this company
I have been working at Cree (More than 3 years)
A whole lot to do...unlimited work hrs...if you are a work dog...this is the place for you
Same as above. Work life balance is hard.
Advice to Management
I have been working at Cree full-time (More than 3 years)
I like the people that I work with, and the gym. Unfortunately, that’s ALL I like about this job. Then there's the rest...
1) PAY—While every company in our general industry in this area starts between $15--$21 per hour, Cree starts at $11.55. The starting pay has only gone up $0.55 an hour in a decade and a half. The management team constantly tells us in quarterly meetings how they “compare us to other companies in our industry in the area”, but they don’t.
2) HIRING TEMP TO PERMANENT—Most companies hire in 90 days or less, or straight out of the gate. Cree takes 6-9 months, or longer. The only reason that Cree does this is to avoid paying benefits for as long as possible, and to keep pay rates at a minimum.
3) THE CREE WAY—Cree has two sets of rules—one for the supervisor level on up, and one for the rest of us. There is no uniformity from top to bottom in the organization.
4) THEY INTENTIONALLY HARM PEOPLE—They have intentionally harmed me, not once but several times. Back, knees, shoulder, neck—all have been made worse or created due to them. Despite multiple doctor’s notes, x-rays, MRI’s and even disability paperwork, both supervisors and managers ignored everything and continued to send me back to the same areas that hurt me, and still do. I have needed multiple cortisone shots for these issues, and have been out of work 10 months out of the 3+ years I have worked there. They also fired a pregnant woman because she couldn’t do a job where she was on her feet for 12 hours a day.
5) CREE PLAYS FAVORITES—Different supervisors, even on the same shift, progress people through their level-up system at different rates, despite actual performance. One person might move someone up quickly who does nothing, while another leaves a hard worker at the bottom level. The same applies to evaluations, which are a joke. They are encouraged to mark people down in certain categories, to avoid giving them a paltry raise. Worse yet, they copy and paste the same comments from one employee’s evaluation to another! I have experienced a person putting their hands on me in a violent way, who has done the same to other employees before me, and they are still working there...while another person targeted by management for speaking up before was fired for a first offense.
6) THEY TARGET PEOPLE—Cree is very underhanded and vindictive. If you speak up in quarterly meetings, call them on their lies, question anything at all, you get a target painted on your back that never goes away. From that point on, they do one of two things, or both—either actively find ways to get rid of you, or spend their time making you so miserable that you quit.
7) THEY MAKE STUPID DECISIONS, THEN EXPECT LOW-LEVEL EMPLOYEES TO MAKE UP THE SLACK—They built a brand-new building that was supposed to be better-organized and more efficient than the disorganized mess we have now. However, they just sold part of their business to a German company, and part of the deal was the new building, which they never finished. So what was the point of building it? They never share any of the company’s profits with the employees. I heard before working here that Cree was one of the few companies with zero debt...now I know WHY. They froze their pay scales back in the late 90’s, took away every perk that made Cree worth working for, have constant turnover (most of which they themselves create), which keeps new people circulating in making the bare minimum pay scale and no benefits, keep equipment long past its usable life, never update anything, never replace anything that’s broken.
8) THEY ALWAYS RAISE DEMANDS WHILE STAGNATING PAY AND PERKS—Every time we hit a goal, no matter how high it already is, Cree raises it. EVERY TIME. We can never keep up, because they’re always demanding more while paying us the same amount. And their reward for hitting these goals? A box lunch or an extra 20 minutes for lunch once a quarter. If we’re really good, we get pizza. Not a pay raise, which would ACTUALLY be helpful.
9) THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT REAL INCENTIVES ARE—Their version of incentivizing employees is giving out movie gift cards (when 80% of the employees don’t even go to movies), having a box lunch once a quarter, giving us an extra 20 minutes at lunch once a quarter, or—the most common one—demanding more production.
10) CREE EVENTS ARE NOT DESIGNED FOR ALL EMPLOYEES—Cree has several annual events. Unfortunately, they are only designed for Mon-Fri employees, not the rest of us on 12-hour shifts. They don’t give us any extra time off, or shut down, so that we can go. Therefore, of the thousands of employees who show up, only a handful come from the nearly 1,000 employees who work in the Fab. This also goes for the cafeteria, which is only open limited hours during the day during the week (when there are more employees who work nights and weekends than don’t), the gym (which is available to salaried employees during their shift, but closes soon after the day shift leaves), and everything else.
11) THEY HAVE ZERO SYMPATHY—They act like your entire life should revolve around Cree. They don’t care about any circumstances going on in your life—marriage, kids, being sick or hurt, having surgery, nothing. They treat us like robots with no lives.
12) THEY PIGEONHOLE YOU INTO ONE AREA AND WON’T LET YOU OUT—Once you are assigned to an area, you are stuck there as long as you work at Cree. Any attempts to change areas is met with rebuffs, excuses, and lies.
13) PAY RAISES ARE MINIMAL OR NON-EXISTENT—I have been at Cree more than three years, and yet my pay hasn’t even gone up $1.00 an hour from the starting $11.55 rate. In a similar time frame, a good friend of mine—who works at a different company in the same general industry—started 4 months before I did at $15.50 per hour, and with regular decent raises and a change in position, she is now making over $19.00 an hour.
14) ALL POSITIONS ARE IDENTICAL TO THEM—I have never seen a company that pays everyone the exact same pay rate, no matter how easy or complicated the job is, no matter how dangerous it is, no matter how long it takes to learn. No matter what you do, you still start out at the same $11.55 an hour. I worked at another company years ago that did very similar work to what Cree does, and back then (1990’s), the people in the clean room made between $12 and $16 an hour...20 YEARS AGO. Cree doesn’t even pay that NOW, in 2016.
15) YOU CAN’T ADVANCE—One of the things they tell prospective employees, both in the interview and in orientation, is “There’s always room to move up at Cree”. What they don’t tell you is that unless you have either maintenance or technician experience or education, there is nowhere “up” for you to go. Every job outside of those two in the Fab pays the same amount, and they won’t let you leave.
16) ATTRITION RATE IS HORRENDOUS—I have watched hundreds of employees go out the door in my short time at Cree. Many quit in frustration. Others were fired, mostly for stupid offenses that other companies wouldn’t even bother with. I watched over 100 people go out the door in 6 months to the same competing company because their starting pay rates were between $15-$18 per hour. You would think that all of these qualified operators going out the door would wake Cree up to the fact that they’re not treating their employees right, but they don’t even blink an eye.
17) THEY HAVE AN UNDESERVED REPUTATION—Cree built a reputation back when they first started of being one of the best places in the Triangle to work for. However, they got complacent, and as they got larger, they completely lost touch with the lower levels. Now, they don’t even pretend to care what goes on outside of their ivory towers. Many new people who don’t know what Cree is like get excited when they hear about Cree, because they think they’re the same company that their reputation from 20 years ago suggests, but they’re not. Second, because of that unearned reputation, Cree has a ton of people lined up waiting to get in the door, so they don’t care about losing good operators. It’s a win-win for them, because they get rid of people who might question them or raise concerns, and replace them with new people who don’t know any better, and get paid less, and who are still temps that they don’t have to give benefits to.
18) THEY IGNORE ALL EMPLOYEE CONCERNS—At every quarterly meeting, all concerns are brushed under the rug without a second’s hesitation. It got so bad that two employees tried advocating for a union. Prior to that, we were working double mandatory overtime, pay was stagnant and had been for years, and employees were being treated like slaves. All of a sudden, the overtime is canceled, and they form a “S.W.A.T. Team”, to address employee concerns (Pay was #1 by a mile). It was a puppet group, controlled by the higher-ups. Their list had Pay at #4. Then they listed the 4 concerns they were going to work on, and Pay had mysteriously disappeared off the list.
19) H.R. IS A MANAGEMENT PUPPET GROUP—Even when you manage to find a person there who shares your concerns, their recommendations or directives are overruled by managers, who are technically supposed to be under their control.
Overall, Cree is by far the worst job that I have ever had in my life, and this is after nearly 3 decades in the workforce and nearly 4 dozen different permanent and temporary jobs. The only employees not actively trying to get away from them are either new people who don’t know better yet, or employees who have been there long enough to be making a decent wage and don’t want to lose it. I only know a handful of people out of nearly 1,000 who actually like working there.
Advice to Management
Address everything listed above. You know about all of it, and have known for years. Stop lying to your employees about how “you’re comparing us to other companies in our industry”—we all know that you’re full of it. Stop demanding more and more out of us every time we turn around if you’re not willing to compensate us. Your Cree Way says “Every employee is valued and critical to our success”—PROVE IT. If we’re valued, show it by paying us what we’re worth. When you have people certified on 5-10 different tool sets, they should be paid more than an employee who only knows one. We don’t care about the shareholders, because you don’t PAY us enough to care. Richard Branson said it best—“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
I have been working at Cree full-time (More than a year)
Very family friendly company!
Great midlevel engineering management; knowledgeable, flexible, insightful, patient & connected; excellent communication skills & professionalism
Peers actually care personally for the well-being & success of their peers as well as thrmselves; great team of engineers with decades of experience & knowledge
Benefits are mostly good except for delays in HSA deposits & occasional misentered benefits data. But I would call our flexibility in schedules World Class - especially for working parents. HSA is nice as are alternative compensation & flexible holidays.
Great place to initiate improvement projects of your own design. There have been numerous ideas I've had to improve cycle time, quality & yield & most were met with approval. These activities help an employee feel empowered & valued.
Insanely extravagent Christmas party & company picnic
Lots of development in progress to grow the business which has a great outlook. Folks are working fervently to increase capacity, improve yield/quality where it really matters.
Small 4" fab, but I like it; it allows for lots of opportunities to make improvements; some equip very outdated & a handful of single-source tools provide challenges. But they've done great with what they've got.
In-house WIP software is lacking & does not have many elements needed to provide consistent/industry standard quality, WIP lookahead by lot, recipe mgmt, etc. This makes it hard to expedite improvements, reduce cycle time, troubleshoot issues & reduce scrap.
Fab is in NC where it can be harder to attract experienced staff despite RTP proximity; still it is a nice campus with local wildlife wandering the factory scene.
External office structure leaves a lot to be desired despite savings considering the $ put into new upstairs offices. Hopefully this will resolve itself in the years ahead.
Lots of operator turnover & some engineering too; what can we do to reatain talent?
Advice to Management
You have a great group of engineers there right now. Do what you can to retain them. I have worked @ few places where the engineering peer synergy across process, equipment & product/integration/R&D groups was outstanding.
Do not be afraid to spend $ to improve equipment. The investment will pay off in better yield/fewer major issues, better cycle time/capacity & faster response times.
More face time beyond a quarterly meeting. Folks like to knowtheir upper management is invested in relationships as well as financially invested.
Career path empasis might help some with attrition. Knowing where growth opportunities for the individual are or might be would encourage many folks (though I actually really enjoy my job)
I have been working at Cree full-time (More than 5 years)
The People. You will work with some really incredible and talented people who are doing everything they can to help the company succeed.
Comp & Benefits. Competitive salaries and good insurance plan, and Cree pays a significant portion of it.
Onsite Cafe and Fitness Center. Top notch onsite café with chefs who take pride in what they do and a modern fitness center that is similar to one you would pay monthly membership dues to.
Company Potential. There is a great product, great people and great potential for the company to have a positive impact of society.
The loss of culture and values. This truly is one of the most distressing things I’ve witnessed during the last year and half. The culture is what made Cree successful, it is what made Cree a great place to work. You have to make a profit to stay in business, and that has always been the case, but now that is the only thing that matters, profit at the expense of everything else. Cree has historically been an R&D startup style company, which has made them very successful, but they are larger and now need to be a corporation. The people that are responsible for making that transition are not handling it well and as a result, Cree hasn’t transitioned from an R&D startup to a Global Corporation, but rather lost its whole identity.
Upper Management. There is a complete disconnect between upper management and the rest of the company. There was a time when the phrase "Cree is We" truly meant something and served as a cornerstone of Cree culture. Unfortunately that phrase is now used primarily when asking employees to make sacrifices. Anytime that phrase is used, the employees automatically take a negative view of whatever is said next. Employees no longer trust upper management or believe that they care about the people. The belief is that the stock price is all that matters. The ironic part is that the lack of attention to the people, who in essence are the core component of the business, has resulted in the stock price continuing to fall.
"Silos" and secrets. There is no continuity throughout the company, each business unit is allowed to operate independently, even though they all rely on the same support services and infrastructure. There is no of effective top-down communication, the C-suite no longer feels the need to communicate with the employees. There used to be quarterly meetings with the company, now those meetings are sporadic and held by individuals at the lower level. Morale at the company is at an all-time low because the people that make the products the company sells don’t know what direction the company is headed, are confused because ever department hears a different story, are not kept informed of the future of the company, do not believe their jobs are secure and, in many cases, are allowed to be treated as replaceable tools.
Advice to Management
I want this company to succeed so badly, it has such great potential and such amazing people and it is so disheartening to watch the mismanagement and the continuous revolving door of the truly talented people leave the company.
Cree is a 24/7 company that requires constant attention and unless you have one of the talented managers that care about you will typically be allowed to work beyond a reasonable family friendly work/life balance. Some positions in some departments are harder to obtain that balance in and the work/life balance truly depends on your individual job responsibilities and your manager. There are some that can't find a balance and some that have no problem.
The talented managers who care about their people and care about the company and who work tirelessly to ensure that both succeed are treated no differently than the managers who care nothing about anything other than how they look and don't care at whose expense they look good. There needs to be a mechanism in place identify and promote managerial talent beyond just how well their team’s end of quarter numbers look. Upper management does not have an easy task to sort out between the two different types of managers, but if they can the reward will be immeasurable.
There is a tremendous disconnect between the executive level and the rest of Cree and no discernible top-down communications. People are scared for their livelihoods, they worry about the company and they don't know what the next day holds in store for them. They want the company to succeed, they want to help the company succeed, but the general sentiment is that the executives will do their thing and what we do at the front line doesn't matter. What does it say that I am in a position where there are three people in my management chain between me and the CEO, and yet the best tool I have at my disposal to try and be heard and make a difference is to share my concerns is Glass Door?
I am constantly amazed by the abilities of the many dedicated employees who work here and what they are able to do in spite of the challenges placed upon them by the executives in the upper management who are disconnected from the reality of the business. I can only imagine how amazing this company would be if said executives and upper management would stop erecting barriers and start providing support. We all want this company to succeed and if we reconnect the company there's so much that we can do together.
The best advice I can give is for the people on the 3rd is to take a break from the meetings and the board rooms, which are, to be fair, important in their own right, and to take a walk on the floor. Speak to the employees who spend 12+ hour shifts gowned up and handling the wafers, talk to the night shift leads that are given the responsibility of a manager, but the authority of an operator, and try to understand the challenges that the support operations folks encounter day after day as they spend their time working across departments, buildings and campuses trying to support and protect the people and the company. Essentially, try to remember what the company is about, you can’t have a company without people and if you continue to ignore the people, you will eventually lose them (and have already lost so many). When I talk to the employees that have left and the employees that remain, no one ever talks about their salaries or their bonuses as reason for their discontent (though no one would turn down a higher salary or bonus either), but almost unanimously they speak of a desire to feel valued, a wish to be empowered to be great at their job and have an opportunity to learn and grow with the company and above all else a need to know where the company is going and how that will impact their livelihood.
I implore the executives and upper management to please take action, get involved and listen to what is going on inside this company. Please do something soon, before it is too late.
I worked at Cree full-time (More than 3 years)
Cafe and gym. What most larger companies have now.
Very top down management. Although the propaganda is constantly spewed that employees are encouraged to be creative and are listened to by management. This is just no true for most employees. The management has a kind of clique culture.
Advice to Management
None that will help the current crew. Sell the company and move on why there is still some value. You won't compete on price. Product features and quality are diminishing against the competition, and price will be the main factor going forward. You don't have the management skills or structure to safeguard stockholder value, so move it to a bigger and better managed company.
I have been working at Cree full-time (More than a year)
There are no good reasons to work at Cree, it pays every two weeks, but makes the world a bad place to live.
The constant pressure inside of Cree ruins lives. It is not a good place to be for a life outside of work. Cree wants you to live the Cree way. Always stressed out and wanting to quit every day.
Advice to Management
Take all of the senior management and put them back in school. It seems as if all of them got straight D's in school, at least that are what the decisions are like.
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