This article is a part of Morning Consult’s Most Admired Employers series. The full rankings are available here.
Starbucks and Uber share a perception problem: People say they would not be proud to work for either company, compared to other major consumer goods and technology firms, according to Morning Consult Brand Intelligence data.
That’s borne out of some common issues, according to marketing experts who say neither firm looks attractive with regard to long-term job prospects, in part because they’re not in control of their image.
In a ranking of companies that people would be most proud to work for, compiled from interviews with tens of thousands of U.S. adults from January to May, Starbucks Corp. and Uber Technologies Inc. were far from the top of the list, hovering closer to consumer goods companies such as Target Corp., Walgreen Co. and Best Buy Co., as well as American Airlines Inc. and JetBlue Airways Corp.
The companies were ranked by the percentage of people who said they’d be proud to work there, and ties were determined based on how well a company performed in Morning Consult’s Most Loved Brands. Respondents were asked if they would be proud to work for a company. They could check “yes” or leave the response blank. Full methodology is available here.
Starbucks’ ranking is likely low because people see employment there as a temporary stopover rather than something they’d consider long-term, said Jack Russo, an Edward Jones analyst who follows Starbucks. The fast food industry is known for its high turnover rate, despite Starbucks employee benefits such as education compensation, he added. Factoring in the current low unemployment rate, some people are in a position to be more selective with jobs, Russo said.
The general public’s aversion to a job at a place like Starbucks could also be linked to the stigma people associate with a part-time food service job, he said.
Jabez LeBret, co-founder and chief marketing officer at the legal marketing firm GNGF, said respondents’ politics could also contribute to views toward companies such as Starbucks and Uber, given their activities on social and political issues.
In February, a Morning Consult poll showed people were split over how they felt about Starbucks’ response to the White House’s proposed travel ban by announcing its intention to hire 10,000 refugees over five years. Forty-seven percent of people supported the hiring and 38 percent were against it. The difference was more pronounced when factoring in political parties: Sixty-two percent of Democratic respondents said they liked Starbucks more knowing that the company took a stand, compared with 53 percent of Republicans who said they had a greater distaste for the coffee chain.
LeBret said one issue that affects Starbucks also affects other big consumer companies: the lack of ownership of how its brand comes across. Instead, consumers are in control because they have access to consumers’ and employees’ social media streams as well as websites such as Yelp that offer crowd-sourced perspectives of a brand based on personal experiences.
People view Starbucks more favorably when asked to evaluate their overall perception of the company, rather than its allure as a potential employer. Sixty-three percent of people have a favorable view of Starbucks, according to Morning Consult Brand Intelligence. In comparison, 80 percent of people say they have a positive view of Walgreens.
“We have really pushed people to think that higher education is only the answer,” LeBret said. “I don’t think that’s helped our perception of good jobs.”
But LeBret painted a slightly different picture for Uber, which he noted has been hit with bad press recently.
“I don’t think Uber’s ever had control of it’s message,” he said. “It’s so young. People are going to plug into your brand any way they see fit.”
Uber also struggles to maintain broad support from Americans overall — 47 percent of poll respondents say they have a positive view of the company, according to Morning Consult Brand Intelligence. That compares with a 73 percent average for tech companies included in Morning Consult surveys.