In an example of a cultural shift, employees are leaving this industry leader due to what employees say is a toxic work culture.
- Though still an industry leader, ExxonMobil has been hemorrhaging employees. The company is bringing in more revenue than ever before, but it is experiencing its highest levels of employee loss since 1999.
- In the last two years, the oil and gas company has lost 12,000 employees globally, and less than half of those departures are due to layoffs.
- In anonymous interviews with Bloomberg Businessweek, some current employees attributed these losses to Exxon’s failure to implement a modern, forward-thinking company culture.
Why it’s news
Corporate culture has gone through some major changes in the last decade. Where once corporate culture kept employees in line through fear, the majority of companies now work on fostering relationships and healthy cultures among employees to keep things running smoothly. But not every company is on board.
Exxon employees told Bloomberg Businessweek that the company’s failure to modernize has stifled innovation. While the employees were still excited to work for one of the top companies in the industry, they were frustrated with the failure to branch out into energy innovations.
Aside from stifling innovation, the company’s performance ranking system doesn’t exactly foster friendly employee relationships. Employees find themselves in competition with one another and hold back from criticism for fear of being pushed to the bottom of the ranking system.
Because of this, employees who get promoted are the ones who say only what their superiors want to hear. Minority employees have also said they feel marginalized. Exxon representatives have rejected these claims.
A large part of employee criticism lies with the company’s ranking system. Some employees have accused superiors of using the system to retaliate against employees who bring bad news or who point out areas for improvement.
Backing Up a Bit
ExxonMobil has faced criticism from the outside before, but internal critics are a newer problem. In response to criticism without and within, Exxon has placed greater emphasis on environmentally friendly measures. These changes seem to be helping the company as its stock is up 60% this year.
The early success however, could be shortlived if the company is unable to innovate.
Despite complaints about company culture, Exxon still offers remarkably attractive benefits to employees. Engineers joining the company fresh from college can expect starting salaries sometimes near $100,000.
As a global company, job opportunities around the world are available, a perk for a young engineer who wants to travel.
Perhaps one of the most unique benefits is a company pension, something few companies have today.
The company typically hires from within, which has many benefits, but sometimes some fresh perspective added to the mix could be needed.
Says management coach Adam Grant, “If your organization has toxic stars, you just don’t have a culture problem. You also have a broken reward system. In healthy organizations, the impact people have on others is a key factor in their pay, performance, and promotions. If you’re a toxic boss, you’re not a success.”