Williams-Sonoma Reviews | Glassdoor

Williams-Sonoma Reviews

Updated November 22, 2017
410 reviews

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3.0
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Williams-Sonoma President, CEO and Director Laura J. Alber
Laura J. Alber
132 Ratings

410 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Work life balance needs improvement (in 64 reviews)

  • A lot of work, the pay doesn't cover how much the upper management requires of you (in 81 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (3)

    "lester needs to leave"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Manager Supply Chain in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Manager Supply Chain in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    good pay, good location and decent commute

    Cons

    most coworkers are not very competent

    Advice to Management

    they need to raise the bar


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Great place when you have a family"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Planner in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Planner in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    At Williams-Sonoma, you will be pleased with the job security which you will not find in other companies during such hard times. All of the brands are fabulous and so attract expertise in the field. You will be impressed with the intellectual and creative atmosphere. There is also a lot of cross department knowledge sharing and even transition if you want to change your career but stay at WSI. All employees have a 40% discount on all brands. Even though it is very corporate and you must put your time in, a long term career path is made for everyone.

    Cons

    At Williams-Sonoma you will find that the computer software is behind avg. for the industry. It takes a long time to get computer enhancements or training on specialized programs which are not supported on the intranet. You will also notice that big decisions are made at the top only, which is typcial and very corporate. Unfortunately, it creates a non-innovative vibe and things don't change very quickly (much like the PB product line). Also the vacation policy is below standard and Williams-Sonoma has a business casual policy five days a week (no jeans). You will also find that it is difficult to be recognized for your work before you put in your time.

    Advice to Management

    Turn-over is a big issue in my department

  3. Helpful (1)

    "A comfortable place to work."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Marketing Manager in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Marketing Manager in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Surprisingly, there's an emphasis here on work-life balance, which is rare in retail. Most people are in around 8:30 and out by 5:30. I don't see many co-workers eating their salads hunched over their desks while they work...people here actually take a lunch, even if it is only for half an hour. For the most part, people at Williams-Sonoma are helpful and friendly.

    Cons

    The organization is a little bloated, so there can be confusion about who's job it is to do something. This often creates double work and a bit of back-tracking.

    Advice to Management

    Create a more enteprenurial environment, where there's an increased ability to make business decisions quickly.


  4. Helpful (3)

    "Great work/family balance but lacks opportunity for advancement."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Business Analyst in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Business Analyst in San Francisco, CA
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    WS offers a great opportunity for work/life balance. Majority of employees have been with the company for a very long time (for that very reason). The people at the company are fun and I enjoy working with majority of them. WS is considered a premier retailer and the experience you gain here will help you find a job in the retail world. In fact, majority of other retailers in Bay Area like Gap, Levi's, Cost Plus, Restoration Hardware, Ross, etc prefer people from WS because of that reason. WS offices are located in convenient locations and they offer shuttles through out the city.

    Cons

    The downside of working at WS is that the company moves extremely slow and it gets very frustrated. The company does not promote (especially in IT) and is losing some of the best people because of that very reason. From the IT standpoint, the technology that is being used is outdated.

    Parking is not provided in most offices and is hard to find (unless you're willing to pay approximately $250 per month). Fringe Benefits are not offered. 401K is matched at regular rate (50% of 1st 6%) but investment choices are very limited. The company doesn't give stock options to employees bellow director level and does not have company stock-buying plans.

    Advice to Management

    Rewarding top performers


  5. "ok place to work but they'd rather hire from outside than transfer employees to different departments"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    good discount, some nice people

    Cons

    impossible to move to other departments within company

    Advice to Management

    follow through on promises made to employees, ie; 'we will start a child care center. . "
    make lower level employees feel important and valued


  6. Helpful (4)

    "Good discount - Tough Requirements for Store Employees"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate in Kansas City, MO
    Former Employee - Associate in Kansas City, MO
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Pretty good benefits, the main one being the 40% employee discount at Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn, and other affiliated stores.

    Cons

    Low pay - $8/hour for store employees. The amount of work expected of store employees ranges from painting bathrooms, lifting heavy merchandise, to helping customers. The strict dress code bans tennis shoes, but the work required is pretty labor-intensive and requires sturdy shoes.

    Advice to Management

    Come check your stores' workrooms and store rooms more often (on surprise visits). Often, the front workrooms are so cluttered you can't even get through to check stock. Have secret shoppers investigate manager friendliness towards customers making single purchases and requesting gift wrap. That is a service you promise to people when they register, then give the "30-45 minutes" response flipantly when the store might not even be that busy.


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Sounds bitter, but wasn't too bad."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Sourcing Manager in South San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Sourcing Manager in South San Francisco, CA
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    great discount, they have some nice product. And the sample sales are awesome. I think their compensation packages are fair and in fact generous. The location is nice and the building is in a scenic, historical location. It is a great product and you can find some amazing friends.

    Cons

    they have no idea how to coach or develop their people. you need to be a "stepford wife". T
    hey do not have a 360 degree stakeholder feedback program so tyrant mgmt types can prosper without any recourse.

    Advice to Management

    people notice nepotism. be clear and concise about goals and how people can succeed. How some of these people get promoted is incredible. "I get a feeling in my tummy" is not an effective way to train a junior employee on how to be proactive in the future.

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Do not forget the "little people" in the stores"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Sales Associate in Santa Clara, CA
    Current Employee - Sales Associate in Santa Clara, CA
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    The employee discount which can be used at their other divisions like Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, West Elm, Williams-Sonoma Home.

    Cons

    The pay is low compared to other high end retailers. Even the people working at a Ghiradelli ice cream kiosk were making more per hour and they were just hired. They were making around $11 per hour and WS was hiring new people around $8-$8.75 per hour.

    Advice to Management

    Do not worry only about the sales numbers but listen to the employees and respond to their comments or complaints. If you take care of the employees and gain their trust and respect the higher sales numbers will follow. Also, if you make the starting pay higher for your sales associates you may be able to attract more experienced retail sales people. However, if you increase the start pay DO NOT forget about the people that have been there for years and not adjust their pay accordingly. If not you may end up with new hires not making too much less than ones that have been good sales associates for a few years.


  9. "Typical very large retailer."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Sales Associate in Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Sales Associate in Austin, TX
    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    The discount is the reason I went to work for Williams Sonoma. For part-timers, they offer great flexibility in scheduling. Generally, it's easy to sell their good quality merchandise to higher end customers who aren't afraid of the prices. It's a large company, so any experience here can easily translate to another retail chain of similar caliber.

    Cons

    The pay is incredibly low and they pinch every penny in this area, yet will easily mark a piece of $1000 furniture to 50% off for a floor model sale. I had a manager tell me that she was afraid she would be in trouble for going over payroll (I stayed an extra hour at 7.50 to close a $1000 sale). Don't know about upward mobility. I have interviewed for higher positions cross-brand and it doesn't seem that there's a lot of cross-brand promoting unless you're at a lower level. The management (from corporate) is very top-down...rather than allowing some leeway to store employees regarding merchandising, etc. Knee jerk reactions from very high levels cause stores to spend hundreds of man-hours rearranging last minute changes when product hasn't even been given 2 weeks exposure. Merchandising is hit or miss...sometimes it's great...sometimes it's weak.

    They have a variety of sales contests, but the majority of awards for the contests are more bonuses to store management. A full-time colleague of mine expressed irritation and disappointment that most of the employees who win annual awards (some nice monetary) are in California, as that's where the company is based and those employees get the most exposure. There doesn't seem to be a lot of effort to purposely include those from smaller cities far away from San Francisco.

    However, all that I have said is pretty typical of any major retailer where I have worked. It's not an unpleasant place to work, but they are so big (and some higher ups have large egos) that they are afraid to give some leeway to their very well trained store managers, and pay more attention to stores and employees in and around SF.

    Advice to Management

    Poll your employees regarding specific floor-sets and sales...what worked, what didn't work...to help make these better in the future and to help store staff feel like they are more a part of the process. Think more about your sales contests and how the everyday store employee can benefit - spread the money/prizes around more as it's more incentive to think you have a better chance of earning something or winning something rather than feeling that it's nearly impossible to win.


  10. Helpful (1)

    "A conservative company, prioritizes profit margin (publicly-traded) over employee morale, but overall a solid company."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Control Buyer in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Control Buyer in San Francisco, CA

    Pros

    Williams-Sonoma is a large, well-known retailer that generally issues higher pay scale than other retailers. Most people enjoy the employee discount and quarterly sample sales. For people who dislike a very modern or progressive atmosphere, this is the place for you. I had a fantastic manager for 2 of the 4 years I spent there, which was directly responsible for my satisfaction with my job. After being promoted and having our management switched out, I was not happy.

    Cons

    Because it is such a large company, each person's work experience is really driven by their management. Some teams have great leadership and are happy; others are not. I personally was not a big fan of how conservative the senior management is - no denim allowed, no eating at your desk, sandals were frowned upon, etc.

    The budget issues could be demoralizing: there was no budget whatsoever for office supplies or holiday parties. We all brought in our own pens and color post-it tabs. My director shelled out personally for our department holiday celebrations. The general attitude is to keep spending lean so that we would all enjoy the stock value (there is an employee stock buy-in program), but after a while, being chintzy with your employees ALL the time starts to affect morale. Many employees work 10 hours a day on average, and crying and outbursts were not uncommon due to stress levels. In my department, most of the stress stemmed from exceedingly outdated retail systems, requiring highly manual (labor-intensive) 'doctoring' of data to supply reports that upper management demanded. There was a lot of resentment about the pressure to produce reporting or analysis using a patchwork of 5 different applications, i.e. if the management wanted reporting flexibility, they should have invested in the technology. It takes a team to do what one person at the Gap can do in terms of data analysis. However, in recent times the systems have been overhauled and replaced (phase-by-phase) so I am hearing that some of the technological grievances have been resolved.

    I disliked the general sense 'good 'ol boy' business dealings (several top executives brought in during the 4+ years I worked there were the Chairman's golf buddies) and hyper-conservative attitudes towards technology and systems upgrading (it made the buyers' lives hell). But I also made more than friends who worked at Gap and I worked with a great team, so it really depends.

    Advice to Management

    Few people in retail like to work for 'the grandma' of the industry. Hire some forward-thinkers, get over the denim thing (it's retail, not investment banking), start rolling out employee appreciation programs that don't feel like compromises or weak efforts to seem on-trend.


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