Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Editor Reviews | Glassdoor

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Editor Reviews

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Editor

3.8
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt President, Chief Executive Officer and Director John “Jack” J. Lynch, Jr.
John “Jack” J. Lynch, Jr.
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Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Benefits and work life balance are excellent (in 41 reviews)

  • work from home on non-travel days (for my role as a Content Specialist) (in 37 reviews)

Cons
  • Lots of upper management has been there 10 to 20 (in 38 reviews)

  • Past lack of focus and direction of Senior management left the company a bloated shell with a weak skeleton of infrastructure (in 37 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Video Producer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Video Producer ­ Principal Camera Operator - Editor in Exeter, NH
    Former Employee - Video Producer ­ Principal Camera Operator - Editor in Exeter, NH
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great people who are committed for the long term to the stupendous authors who make up the core wealth of this business. Fantastic products of book/curriculum/journal/PD/video work comes out of this intimate place in Portsmouth.

    Cons

    Management has changed since I've left but no Cons anyway....very smart people investing in helping teachers/classrooms/schools.

    Advice to Management

    Trust your people. Everyone works in a very committed way for this group and all it represents for education and students.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "A valuable long-term career"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Executive Editor in Orlando, FL
    Current Employee - Executive Editor in Orlando, FL
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    It's important work--designing instructional materials for students all over the US. It is also an academic environment and you have the opportunity to work with many creative and very bright colleagues.

    Cons

    Dealing with corporate constraints, especially budget. Large companies simply don't have the kind of money they once had so finding financial rewards can be tough, especially for folks new to the business.

    Advice to Management

    Salary increases would go a long way to improving employee engagement and work satisfaction.

  3. Helpful (8)

    "Just when you thought it couldn't get worse..."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Used to BE Called An Editor in Orlando, FL
    Current Employee - Used to BE Called An Editor in Orlando, FL
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    My coworkers are awesome people who work hard for little reward.

    Cons

    There are marked disparities between the people who do the work and the people who sit all day in meetings (which is nearly have of the staff). There continues to be little concern for the sheer number of night and weekend hours people are forced to work because staff members keep being cut. Few reasons not to leave and look for jobs elsewhere as we are not valued here!

    Advice to Management

    Hello? Hello? Is anybody up there in the management stratosphere? It's us... the worker bees. Hi. Nice to finally meet you! Please acknowledge we are here and give us some physical and monetary support, or else we are switching hives.


  4. "Good Start To My Career, But..."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate Editor in Orlando, FL
    Former Employee - Associate Editor in Orlando, FL
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    I started at Harcourt before they merged with Houghton Mifflin. I'd just graduated with a B.A. in English worked my way from assistant to assistant editor to associate editor. Harcourt was a great place to start my professional career, to learn how to properly edit textbooks (or any book, for that matter), as well as the ins-and-outs of project management.

    Cons

    In the slow times, there is literally nothing to do. For some, this might be great, getting paid to do nothing. For me, however, it was torture and pushed me to begin looking for another job.

    The merger with Houghton Mifflin wasn't bad, at all, but the slowing of the textbook industry that led to the merger was. We went through a couple rounds of layoffs prior to and after the merger, which made it very disheartening to work there. I was extremely happy to find employment at a different company.

    Advice to Management

    As with many companies, the lack of focus on career development hurts the long-term prospects of both the company and employee retention. The ones that do stay around either learn the hurdles and jobs themselves or they stay at a level that doesn't challenge them, leaving them bitter, perhaps, or, at the least, daydreaming of the clock hitting five.


  5. Helpful (7)

    "Terrible place to work. Upper management hates books. Lower management exploits workers."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Editor in Boston, MA
    Current Employee - Editor in Boston, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Editors, designers, interns, and other people who do real work (rather than the out of touch managers) were fun colleagues.
    Casual work clothes.
    I took all my personal days in addition to vacation days (HMH is so awful that I feel I deserved it.)

    Cons

    Management browbeats employees. Rampant favoritism.
    Unreasonable schedule. Really poor project management, so that projects are overdue even before they are assigned.
    They waste money on events for themselves and don't pay workers industry standard. Pitiful raises.
    Time-consuming performance review application full of buzzwords.

    Advice to Management

    Houghton's product quality is really suffering. Stop buying Canadian software firms and work with what you have. A third bankruptcy looks right around the corner with the poor product Houghton puts out.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "A challenging company to work for"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Supervsing Editor
    Current Employee - Supervsing Editor
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    The people are great to work with. Immediate teams are close, people are talented and hard-working, and folks give a lot to their work.

    Cons

    In the past several years, deadlines have gotten tighter, resources tighter, and everyone is finding it harder to get their work done. There hasn't been any support from upper management. No real merit increases for quite some time and very few promotions, although this may be changing.

    Advice to Management

    Things seem to be improving with Linda Zecher, hopefully this trend will continue. Upper management is finally acknowledging some of the issues we've had for years.


  7. "Bittersweet sentiments and compliment."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Editor in Evanston, IL
    Former Employee - Editor in Evanston, IL
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Promoted 3 times within 5 years of my 11. My team was the best, making my experience at HM much better. Before merging with Hartcourt, the company dynamic was not the best, but the people were awesome, I loved my job, and felt a sense of "worth". The work I did, no matter how big or small, was an educational contribution to our nation's school districts.

    Cons

    After HM acquired Harcourt, things changed dramatically. Issues that matter, such as quality improvement for employees and our work, was overlooked and downplayed for the sake of making a profit. This is just my opinion, it doesn't reflect what others think and I'm hopeful HMH's culture and value has gotten better.

  8. Helpful (10)

    "I was so glad to be laid off!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Editor in Boston, MA
    Former Employee - Senior Editor in Boston, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Casual dress code. Very talented editors and designers left over from the time when Houghton was actually a publishing company. Ten personal days in addition to at least two weeks vacation each year and ten paid holidays.

    Cons

    Editorial and production schedules are too tight and force workers to work unpaid overtime without so much as a thank you. The measly raises do not even cover the rise in the cost of living. My department suffered from constant hemorrhaging of talent for these reasons.
    The corporation has two time tracking systems, let's call them MeTime and PASS. If one happens to eat lunch, first one uses MeTime to enter one's lunch hour and also the time that is spent entering that time in PASS. Then one uses PASS to enter one's lunch hour and also the time one spent entering one's lunch hour in MeTime. Yes, it is that insane. I asked HR and IT if the data could somehow be imported from one application to the other automatically. I was told that this had been looked into and was deemed not feasible.
    The corporation also has a "talent alienation" (or perhaps "time wasting") system. One is forced to make endless reports on one's progress in a very unwieldy application. This usually takes about 12-16 hours each time. The system presents one with goals like "Employee thinks outside the box" and "Employee creates synergy" and one has to spit back these buzz words in little essays about how one is "growing the company" and "growing one's talents". I am a fluent writer so I can play this game easily, even though it prevents me from doing real work. However, what do people who are not as verbal do? And who reads these reports in any case? Everyone suspects that their sole purpose is to justify layoffs. I myself suspect that system itself was the initiative of some member of the upper management to show that he was actually doing something between his afternoon latte and his afterwork appletini. Perhaps he or she was laid off in the last round of layoffs, so this situation will improve when they realize the system eating deeply into worker productivity and is costing the company a lot of money.
    How many times did I see management walk past my office leaving early while I slaved away to meet their unreasonable deadlines? The management has been very slow in the last decade in its response to the rise of the Internet. They failed to ask what the nature and the place of the book would be in the digital age. As a result, they let many opportunities slip away and bankrupted the company. Instead of leaving early, they should have been working to create digital initiatives.
    Around 2004-2007, I heard many young talented junior editors made wonderful suggestions about digital initiatives in meetings. They were fobbed off by the management who did not want to stay late and write the memos and make the plans--they couldn't work late like the workers they managed. Then the same managers rushed into my office in a panic in 2009 asking how we could implement exactly what these junior editors had suggested years ago. They could not ask those editors, who had long ago left for other companies that were more rewarding personally and financially. But it is too little, too late. That boat has sailed.
    The publisher for my division was so out of touch that that s/he never noticed that his/her schedules could not be met until his/her department was in absolute crisis. Then before relenting and adjusting the schedules, s/he would throw a tantrum saying that we didn't understand publishing. I understood that s/he owned a place int the country and took lovely vacations all the time, while I couldn't even afford to save for retirement and lived in miserable studio apartment.
    The company is also having legal troubles because of past underreporting of press runs and lack of payment of royalties to artists and photographers, and this creates an atmosphere of desperation and fear in the production departments. Truly a toxic work environment, even if the term "toxic" is overused nowadays.

    Advice to Management

    Did you here the story of the farmer who almost trained his donkey to work with no food? Every day he fed it less and less, and just when he thought he had finally trained the donkey to work with no food at all, it up and died on him!
    The company has been jerry-rigged as a machine for transferring federal education dollars to investors' coffers. It will not survive in this capacity as federal budgets tighten and should reconsider its position. Recent problems with spelling errors in iPad apps due to lack of proofreaders for the apps (all laid off probably...) show that there is only so much restructuring one can do before the brand is harmed. Press runs go badly because of supply problems created by Williams Lea. Talented freelancers look elsewhere because of the cumbersome HMH contracting apparatus.
    Start running the company like a publishing firm, although that may be difficult, since the company is owned by bankers, not people with experience in the publishing industry. The company seems to be run by people with no great love for books. The brand will suffer if no action is taken, and that is all HMH has got.
    There is absolutely no synergy between the various divisions. School does not work with Children's Trade, Education and College (when it existed) do not work with Reference, and the management discourages any sort of "synergy." They have got to forego their 4 o'clock appletini at Tico's downstairs and try to think up some lucrative plans in their office.
    Get rid of PMP. It must be losing the company money, because so much worker time is eaten up by filling up all the little boxes with buzzwords.


  9. "At least I have a job..."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Editor in Orlando, FL
    Current Employee - Senior Editor in Orlando, FL
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Love the people.
    Love the opportunity to be creative.
    Like that we still have health care option (though they aren't very good).

    Cons

    Wish our HR would do more... something... anything.
    Hate getting weekly announcements of new senior VPs (I think it's a one-to-one ratio between core staff and VPs now).
    The bottom line is all that is important, not a quality product.
    Don't always feel like I'm thought of as an adult or a working professional.
    Most of us work overtime or on tasks that are not part of our official jobs.

    Advice to Management

    Resign and allow individuals with publishing experience to take over.


  10. Helpful (7)

    "HMH ruined my life"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Editor in Boston, MA
    Current Employee - Senior Editor in Boston, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Since they have been laying off all my lovely coworkers, there are few.
    Casual dress code? But since the salaries are so low, they could hardly require workers to dress well.

    Cons

    Schedules are set by project managers who have never done the job of those they manage, and don't even understand the job, so they cannot comprehend why everyone is so rushed and is so overworked. To get the schedules done, one has to work weekends and evenings and the management never acknowledges this.
    Very poor vertical and lateral communication. Everyone has their little fiefdom that they guard jealously.
    Insane time-tracking down to the minute through two different time systems that are not compatible.
    Upper management does not seem to track industry trends, resulting in products that seem outdated and out of touch with today's web-based book consumption and education.

    Advice to Management

    Management should realise that morale is low because employees are overworked and underpaid and the schedules forced on them are unreasonable. High employee turnover, problems with press runs, excessive and expensive changes to copy and covers at late dates are ultimately the result of poor management, not worker carelessness.