Griping about your job in America practically belongs in the Bill of Rights. That's especially true now in a historic economic downturn, when folks are holding on to jobs, like them or not, as fiercely as they would grip Titanic lifeboats.
When it's tough, if not impossible, to jump from one job to another, and when companies have thinned their ranks and ask employees to do more than ever, what's a red-blooded U.S. worker going to do?
Gripe, groan, grouse, beef, bellyache, complain, fret, fuss, whine and kvetch.
It can be an art form.
Fortunately, in addition to the usual chorus of watercooler complaining with fellow workers, there are Web sites that let employees vent anonymously. One such site, Jobvent.com, has assembled quite a collection of worker criticism. The site lets workers select numbers that coincide with the intensity of their (mostly negative) gripes or (occasional) positive remarks. Jobvent ranks companies accordingly.
It's all terribly unscientific but irresistibly insightful. So we took a spin through Jobvent to see how some of the more unpopular and popular businesses fared.
It's one big grumbling workplace out there.
Among the 10 largest companies headquartered in the Tampa Bay area, four stood out with multiple critical comments outnumbering praise. Tampa's Kforce (staffing services) took the most lumps over ditzy managers and complaints over lack of respect.
Clearwater's Lincare, a national provider of home care respiratory services, followed closely behind with gripes over too much work and lack of recognition. St. Petersburg's Jabil Circuit, a global contract electronics manufacturer, took some hits for people feeling overworked and unlikely to get promoted. And Tampa's WellCare Health Plans got zinged for disorganization, among other things.
Don't think of these reviews as epic assessments, but rather casual insights that perhaps grow in credibility based on the sheer volume of comments.
Among other higher-profile businesses based elsewhere but operating in the Tampa Bay area, here are two with plenty of Jobvent comments:
• Progressive Insurance generated some of the largest numbers, with 919 negative remarks in 1,410 comments. Here's one from Tampa: "(Job) security, very funny. Work for less and less, produce more, it means nothing to them. It's the new mantra on the American race to the bottom. Don't like it, leave."
• Enterprise Rent-A-Car registered 407 comments, 306 of them critical, like this one from St. Petersburg: "One interviewer asked me, 'Would you be okay washing an occasional car for a customer from time to time?' Well, I guess his numerical value for 'an occasional car' is around 18-20 cars a day in a shirt & tie."
A Clearwater business called IMC Financial Services ranks No. 26 on Jobvent's "lowest ranked" companies list, even though there are only a few comments from employees. They just happen to be especially harsh.
A few companies in this area actually managed to generate positive reviews, even on a Web site named Jobvent. The engineering/consulting firm PBS&J got a handful of reviews. But it was enough to rank it No. 99 on Jobvent's overall "I love my job" list.
Robert Trigaux can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.