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2 big-time CEOs fell surprisingly far in new employee rankings

Aarthi Swaminathan
Finance Writer

Glassdoor’s new Top 100 CEOs list has some bad news for two industry giants. Bloomberg CEO Michael Bloomberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook saw huge drops in this year’s list as employee reviews suggested relative discontentment with the work cultures.

Bloomberg fell 67 spots — from #26 to #93 — while Cook is down to #96 from #53.

Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc., shakes hands with an employee as he visits the Apple Store in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 27, 2018. (REUTERS/John Gress)

The top 100 list is part of Glassdoor’s annual Employee’s Choice Awards, where it honored CEOs across North America and parts of Europe. The list also cuts across industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and technology.

Results were compiled from employee reviews on Glassdoor. Employees were asked to rate several factors tied to their employment experiences, including sentiment around the CEO’s leadership and workplace attributes regarding senior management.

Glassdoor’s top 100 CEOs

For the CEO approval rating, employees were asked to report whether they approve or disapprove or are neutral about the CEO’s performance. About 770,000 employers were reviewed on Glassdoor, and the average CEO rating was 69%.

Though Bloomberg and Cook shared an approval rating at 91%, the number was considered low when compared to other elite CEOs — the top 3 in the large companies category all had a 99% approval rating.

‘Slow to take action once employee feedback is shared’

Apple’s Cook was the tech CEO with the biggest drop in rankings. The main grievance was also the work culture.

Screenshot from an anonymous reviewer on Glassdoor.com

“When we read reviews on Glassdoor, employees criticize the culture of secrecy, high stress and necessity to keep to a chain of command,” said Scott Dobroski, a community expert at Glassdoor.

Apple employs 80,000 people, according to the company’s website. Cook took over as CEO in 2011 after Steve Jobs resigned.

Employees surveyed were also dissatisfied with the pace of change. “Employees also speak to how the leadership team is slow to take action once employee feedback is shared and how teams are often strapped for resources and time,” said Dobroski.

Cook most recently gave 12,000 of its employees at its Apple Park headquarters standing desks because “sitting is the new cancer.”

‘Bureaucratic culture’ and a ‘chain of command’

Michael Bloomberg speaks at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum on September 20, 2017 in New York City. (GETTY IMAGES/John Moore)

“Bloomberg experienced the biggest decrease in rankings,” Dobroski said. “According to reviews within the past year, employees speak to a bureaucratic culture, outdated work processes and systems and minimal opportunities for career growth due to a flat organizational structure.

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has led the company from inception in 1981 to 2001, when he took a brief hiatus to run the city. He returned as CEO in late 2014. Bloomberg currently employs around 19,000 people in 176 different countries, according to its website.

Dobroski added that the reviewers felt that the management team did not take the effort “to create a workplace environment that encourages creativity or innovation.”