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15 Warning Signs to Identify a Toxic Work Environment Before Taking a Job

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According to Gallup, 85% of the world’s one billion full-time employees are unhappy at work.

While there are a number of reasons that contribute towards job dissatisfaction, a toxic work environment can have a significant impact on an employee’s performance, not to mention their physical and mental health.

But identifying red flags before accepting a job offer can be difficult; companies often sell themselves as a model workplace, when in reality, their inner workings are hugely problematic.

How to Identify a Toxic Work Environment

Today’s graphic comes to us from resume.io and it illustrates the 15 warning signs to look out for before, during, and after a job interview.

15 Warning Signs to Help Identify a Toxic Work Environment

Lifting the Corporate Veil

A toxic work environment diminishes productivity by breeding a culture of discrimination, disorganization, bullying, and may even be fueled by unethical or selfish motivations.

Luckily, prospective employees can avoid 40 hours of torment a week by probing the company’s culture before signing on the dotted line. Here is a list of things to look out for:

Before the Interview

For better or worse, first impressions matter. Although excitement levels may be high, it’s important to pay attention to potential missteps, even before the interview starts.

  1. Vague job description: There should be clarity around the roles and responsibilities associated with the job, even if it is a new role in the company.
  2. Negative reviews on Glassdoor: Company review platforms are quickly becoming an indispensable tool for jobseekers who are interested in learning more about previous and current employees’ experiences.
  3. It took a long time to arrange an interview: Companies should show respect for the interviewee by getting back to them in a timely manner.
  4. Forgetting interviews: This could suggest that either the company has serious communication issues, or they do not prioritize interviewing potential employees.
  5. The interview starts late: Punctuality is not only expected from the person being interviewed, the interviewer should also be on time.

During the Interview

Adrenaline may be pumping when the interviewee is in the hot seat, but it’s crucial that they take stock of how the interviewers are conducting themselves.

  1. Unprepared interviewers: If the interview lacks structure, this could signal a disorganized team and a lack of clear expectations for the role.
  2. No interest in listening: Both parties need to put their best foot forward in an interview, to make sure that the interviewee’s personality and skill set aligns with the company, and vice versa.
  3. Authoritarian interviewer: This may indicate a lack of respect for employees.
  4. Inability to communicate company values: If company values are embodied by employees, then they should be top of mind and easily communicated.
  5. Questions are skimmed over: Companies should be transparent and be willing to provide comprehensive answers to any questions an interviewee may have.

After the Interview

In addition to assessing their own performance, interviewees should give careful consideration to how the entire interview experience went.

  1. Short interview: Either the company has already chosen another candidate, or they are desperate to fill the role as quickly as possible.
  2. Quiet workspace: A lack of teamwork or fearful employees could be the culprit for a silent office.
  3. No office tour: Companies should always give prospective employees a glimpse into what their day-to-day could look like by showing them around and introducing them to the team.
  4. Job offer was given on the day of the interview: The company could be trying to restrict the interviewee doing further research into the company, or simply filling the role as quickly as possible.
  5. Delayed decision-making: Failing to get back to someone who has done an interview shows a lack of respect for their time or disorganization on the company’s end.

It’s also worth mentioning that mistakes can be made by anyone, so it is perhaps not helpful to scrutinize companies for small errors in judgement when most of the experience has been positive.

Regardless, if there are any looming uncertainties, it is up to the person being interviewed to ask.

Finding the Courage to Ask Questions

When it comes to interviews, questioning the culture of the company is just as important as questioning the interviewee on their knowledge and skills.

“He who asks a question may be a fool for five minutes. He who does not ask questions, remains a fool forever.”

—Ancient Chinese proverb

Switching jobs is rarely an easy process, especially when jobseekers have come up against unforeseen challenges as a result of COVID-19.

But it is more important than ever for people to do their due diligence, and be brave enough to ask tough questions. Otherwise, they may have to repeat the cycle all over again—much sooner than they would have thought.

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Ranked: The Reputation of 100 Major Brands in the U.S.

What comes to mind when you think of a good or bad brand? This poll ranks the brand reputation of 100 major companies in America.

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Ranked: The Reputation of 100 Major Brands in the U.S.

Whether you’re a country or a company, brand reputation is crucial. For corporations trying to stand out amongst an array of competitors, name recognition can be make or break.

The Axios Harris Poll polled a nationally representative sample of nearly 43,000 Americans to find out which 100 companies emerge as top of mind—for better or for worse.

How is Brand Reputation Measured?

The polling process started by asking respondents which two companies they felt excelled or faltered in the U.S.—in other words, which companies were the most “visible” in their eyes.

The top 100 brands that emerged from this framework were then judged by poll respondents across seven dimensions, over three key pillars:

  • Character
    Includes a company’s culture, ethics, and citizenship (whether a consumer shares a company’s values or the company supports good causes)
  • Trajectory
    Includes a company’s growth prospects, vision for the future, and product and service offerings (whether they are innovative, and of high quality)
  • Trust
    Does a consumer trust the brand in the first place?

Once these dimensions are taken into account, the final scores portray how these “visible brands” rank in terms of their reputation among a representative sample of Americans:

  • Score range: 80.0 and above
    Reputation: Excellent
  • Score range: 75.0-79.9
    Reputation: Very Good
  • Score range: 70.0-74.9
    Reputation: Good
  • Score range: 65.0-69.9
    Reputation: Fair
  • Score range: 64.9 and below
    Reputation: Poor

Companies with a Very Poor reputation (a score below 50) didn’t make it into the list. Here’s how the 100 most visible companies stack up in terms of brand reputation:

2021 RankCompany2021 ScoreOverall Reputation
#1Patagonia82.7Excellent
#2Honda Motor Company81.6Excellent
#3Moderna81.3Excellent
#4Chick-fil-A81.1Excellent
#5SpaceX81.1Excellent
#6Chewy80.9Excellent
#7Pfizer80.2Excellent
#8Tesla Motors80.2Excellent
#9Costco80.1Excellent
#10Amazon.com80.0Excellent
#11REI79.9Very Good
#12USAA79.2Very Good
#13Wegmans79.2Very Good
#14Subaru79.2Very Good
#15Unilever79.2Very Good
#16Apple79.1Very Good
#17In-n-Out Burger78.7Very Good
#18Toyota Motor Corporation78.7Very Good
#19UPS78.6Very Good
#20PepsiCo78.5Very Good
#21IKEA78.4Very Good
#22Lowe's78.3Very Good
#23Publix Supermarkets78.2Very Good
#24CVS (CVS Health)78.2Very Good
#253M Company78.1Very Good
#26HP, Inc.78.1Very Good
#27Berkshire Hathaway78.0Very Good
#28Hulu77.9Very Good
#29Nestle77.7Very Good
#30The Kroger Company77.5Very Good
#31Samsung77.5Very Good
#32Paypal77.5Very Good
#33FedEx Corporation77.4Very Good
#34Sony77.3Very Good
#35Procter & Gamble Co.77.0Very Good
#36Microsoft76.8Very Good
#37The Walt Disney Company76.7Very Good
#38Netflix76.4Very Good
#39IBM76.3Very Good
#40General Electric76.1Very Good
#41Target76.0Very Good
#42Wayfair75.8Very Good
#43Citigroup75.7Very Good
#44American Express75.6Very Good
#45The Home Depot75.4Very Good
#46Walgreens75.3Very Good
#47Kaiser Permanente75.3Very Good
#48Best Buy75.2Very Good
#49Adidas75.1Very Good
#50Ford Motor Company75.1Very Good
#51Electronic Arts, Inc.74.7Good
#52State Farm Insurance74.7Good
#53Hobby Lobby74.5Good
#54JPMorgan Chase & Co.74.5Good
#55Kohl's74.4Good
#56T-Mobile74.3Good
#57Domino's Pizza73.7Good
#58The Coca-Cola Company73.7Good
#59Goya73.5Good
#60Google73.3Good
#61Verizon Communications73.2Good
#62Nike72.8Good
#63Nordstrom72.8Good
#64Macy's72.3Good
#65Starbucks Corporation72.3Good
#66eBay72.1Good
#67Wendy's72.1Good
#68General Motors72.0Good
#69Royal Dutch Shell71.6Good
#70Yum! Brands71.5Good
#71Dollar General71.4Good
#72Johnson & Johnson71.4Good
#73McDonald's71.1Good
#74Dollar Tree71.1Good
#75Fiat Chrysler Automobiles70.8Good
#76Chipotle70.8Good
#77Bank of America70.5Good
#78Reddit70.4Good
#79Robinhood70.4Good
#80ExxonMobil70.4Good
#81Delta Air Lines70.4Good
#82GameStop69.7Fair
#83Walmart69.7Fair
#84Burger King69.4Fair
#85BP68.2Fair
#86AT&T67.6Fair
#87United Airlines67.4Fair
#88Huawei Technologies67.1Fair
#89JCPenney66.3Fair
#90Uber66.2Fair
#91My Pillow66.0Fair
#92Comcast65.8Fair
#93Twitter63.4Poor
#94TikTok63.0Poor
#95Wells Fargo & Company63.0Poor
#96Sears Holdings Corporation61.2Poor
#97Wish.com60.7Poor
#98Facebook60.0Poor
#99Fox Corporation59.2Poor
#100The Trump Organization56.9Poor

While the ranking itself highlights well-respected and poorly-viewed brands overall, another perspective is to look at which brands shot up in the list, and which ones plummeted.

Fastest Risers in Brand Reputation

Unwavering and bold commitments to the environment has helped Patagonia to top the charts as the #1 brand, rising 31 ranks since 2020. From funneling 1% of sales into environmental donations to ensuring ethical supply chains, Patagonia’s culture, ethics, and citizenship all align with its business model in consumers’ eyes.

With over 33 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered daily around the world, Pfizer’s contribution to the ongoing immunization progress is undeniable. As a result, its overall ranking has swelled by 54 places since 2020.

Rank in 2021Brand2021 ScoreChange
#7Pfizer80.2+54
#1Patagonia82.7+31
#15Unilever79.2+20
#71Dollar General71.4+19
#43Citigroup75.7+17
#2Honda Motor Company81.6+14
#24CVS (CVS Health)78.2+13
#27Berkshire Hathaway78+13
#50Ford Motor Company75.1+13
#56T-Mobile74.3+13

Dollar General might seem like a surprising addition to this table, but in terms of sheer growth, discount stores are thriving. Across America, dollar stores are opening at a rate of three per day, faster than any Starbucks or McDonalds.

There’s a crucial reason for this: in many rural areas, millions rely on dollar stores for food and other essentials, as the nearest grocery store can be nearly an hour’s drive away.

Biggest Decliners in Brand Reputation

Despite steady revenue growth, Google is among a handful of Big Tech companies whose reputations are backsliding, dropping 36 places in the past year. The outsize power and influence these companies hold is increasingly coming under regulatory scrutiny.

Rank in 2021Brand2021 ScoreChange
#60Google73.3-36
#35Procter & Gamble Co.77-27
#81Delta Air Lines70.4-24
#30The Kroger Company77.5-21
#38Netflix76.4-21
#70Yum! Brands71.5-21
#23Publix Supermarkets78.2-19
#36Microsoft76.8-17
#58The Coca-Cola Company73.7-17
#67Wendy's72.1-17

Although Netflix pioneered the world of streaming, it is now facing stiff competition from emerging subscription services. Amazon’s latest acquisition of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM Studios) will especially bolster the content catalog available on Prime Video.

Building a Brand Reputation Doesn’t Come Easy

Near the bottom of the 100 companies leaderboard, the struggles of mainstream media and modern information dissemination are strongly reflected. Despite their diverse audiences and established histories, brand reputations of both Facebook and Fox News have eroded in recent years.

This example highlights how the nature of a brand’s reputation can evolve over time. Building a strong and reputable brand may be subjective, but its effects on consumer loyalty are powerful.

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Technology

Ranked: The Most Innovative Companies in 2021

In today’s fast-paced market, companies have to be innovative constantly. Here’s a look at the top 50 most innovative companies in 2021.

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Most Innovative Companies 2021

Ranked: the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2021

This year has been rife with pandemic-induced changes that have shifted corporate priorities—and yet, innovation has remained a top concern among corporations worldwide.

Using data from the annual ranking done by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) using a poll of 1,600 global innovation professionals, this graphic ranks the top 50 most innovative companies in 2021.

We’ll dig into a few of the leading companies, along with their innovative practices, below.

Most Innovative Companies: A Breakdown of the Leaderboard

To create the top 50 innovative company ranking, BCG uses four variables:

  • Global “Mindshare”: The number of votes from all innovation executives.
  • Industry Peer Review: The number of votes from executives in a company’s industry.
  • Industry Disruption: A diversity index to measure votes across industries.
  • Value Creation: Total share return.

For the second year in a row, Apple claims the top spot on this list. Here’s a look at the full ranking for 2021:

 CompanyIndustryHQChange from 2020
1AppleTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.--
2AlphabetTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.--
3AmazonConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.--
4MicrosoftTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.--
5TeslaTransport & Energy🇺🇸 U.S.+6
6SamsungTechnology🇰🇷 South Korea-1
7IBMTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.+1
8HuaweiTechnology🇨🇳 China-2
9SonyConsumer Goods🇯🇵 Japan--
10PfizerHealthcare🇺🇸 U.S.Return
11SiemensTechnology🇩🇪 Germany+10
12LG ElectronicsConsumer Goods🇰🇷 South Korea+6
13FacebookTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.-3
14AlibabaConsumer Goods🇨🇳 China-7
15OracleTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.+10
16DellTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.+4
17Cisco SystemsTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.-5
18TargetConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.+4
19HP Inc.Technology🇺🇸 U.S.-4
20Johnson & JohnsonHealthcare🇺🇸 U.S.+6
21ToyotaTransport & Energy🇯🇵 Japan+20
22SalesforceTechnology🇺🇸 U.S.+13
23WalmartConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.-10
24NikeConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.-8
25LenovoTechnology🇭🇰 Hong Kong SARReturn
26TencentConsumer Goods🇨🇳 China-12
27Procter & GambleConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.+12
28Coca-ColaConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.+20
29Abbott LabsHealthcare🇺🇸 U.S.New
30BoschTransport & Energy🇩🇪 Germany+3
31XiaomiTechnology🇨🇳 China-7
32IkeaConsumer Goods🇳🇱 NetherlandsReturn
33Fast RetailingConsumer Goods🇯🇵 JapanReturn
34AdidasConsumer Goods🇩🇪 GermanyReturn
35Merck & Co.Healthcare🇺🇸 U.S.Return
36NovartisHealthcare🇨🇭 Switzerland+11
37EbayConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.Return
38PepsiCoConsumer Goods🇺🇸 U.S.Return
39HyundaiTransport & Energy🇰🇷 South KoreaReturn
40SAPTechnology🇩🇪 Germany-13
41InditexConsumer Goods🇪🇸 SpainReturn
42ModernaHealthcare🇺🇸 U.S.New
43PhilipsHealthcare🇳🇱 Netherlands-20
44DisneyMedia & Telecomms🇺🇸 U.S.Return
45MitsubishiTransport & Energy🇯🇵 JapanNew
46ComcastMedia & Telecomms🇺🇸 U.S.New
47GETransport & Energy🇺🇸 U.S.Return
48RocheHealthcare🇨🇭 SwitzerlandReturn
49AstraZenecaHealthcare🇬🇧 UKNew
50BayerHealthcare🇩🇪 Germany-12

One company worth touching on is Pfizer, a returnee from previous years that ranked 10th in this year’s ranking. It’s no surprise that Pfizer made the list, considering its instrumental role in the fight against COVID-19. In partnership with BioNTech, Pfizer produced a COVID-19 vaccine in less than a year. This is impressive considering that, historically, vaccine development could take up to a decade to complete.

Pfizer is just one of four COVID-19 vaccine producers to appear on the list this year—Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca also made the cut.

Meanwhile, in a completely different industry, Toyota snagged the 21st spot on this year’s list, up 20 places compared to the rankings in the previous year. This massive jump can be signified by the company’s recent $400 million investment into a company set to build flying electric cars.

While we often think of R&D and innovation as being synonymous, the former is just one innovation technique that’s helped companies earn a spot on the list. Other companies have innovated in different ways, like streamlining processes to increase efficiency.

For instance, in 2021, Coca-Cola performed an analysis of their beverage portfolio and ended up cutting their brand list in half, from 400 to 200 global brands. This ability to pare down and pivot could be a reason behind its 20 rank increase from 2020.

Innovation Creates Value

As this year’s ranking indicates, innovation comes in many forms. But, while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, there is one fairly consistent innovation trend—the link between innovation and value.

In fact, according to historical data from BCG, the correlation between value and innovation has grown even stronger over the last two decades.

Most Innovative Companies 2021

For example, in 2020, a portfolio that was theoretically invested in BCG’s most innovative companies would have performed 17% better than the MSCI World Index—which wasn’t the case back in 2005.

And yet, despite innovation’s value, many companies can’t reap the benefits that innovation offers because they aren’t ready to scale their innovative practices.

The Innovation Readiness Gap

BCG uses several metrics to gauge a company’s “innovation readiness,” such as the strength of its talent and culture, its organization ecosystems, and its ability to track performance.

According to BCG’s analysis, only 20% of companies surveyed were ready to scale on innovation.

Scaling Innovation

What’s holding companies back from reaching their innovation potential? The most significant gap seems to be in what BCG calls innovation practices—things like project management or the ability to execute an idea that’s both efficient and consistent with an overarching strategy.

To overcome this obstacle, BCG says companies need to foster a “one-team mentality” to increase interdepartmental collaboration and align team incentives, so everyone is working towards the same goal.

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