As a former employee, I was interested in the article the KNS ran today about Denso Manufacturing Tennessee’s expansion. It was about what I would expect from a local paper writing about a local company expanding–lots of talk about new jobs, complimentary remarks about the people of the region, and a few standard corporate-type comments from top management–nothing really remarkable or controversial. The comments posted by readers, however, are very interesting. Some comments came from employees and former employees who actually know what it’s like to work there, while others commented only on what they’ve heard.
So what’s it really like to work there? Well…
The comments from current and former employees are not that far off. But to be fair, I suspect Denso is not much different than any other large corporations in many respects. I’d say that it’s better in some ways and worse in others, but all-in-all the good and bad average out for most of their employees. Sure, there are people there who think it’s really bad, but it always seemed to me that the real reason they don’t like their jobs is that they feel stuck there. Some probably feel stuck because they have been dead ended in their career by the powers that be and can’t move up, while others feel stuck in that they don’t have the skills (or at least don’t think they had the skills) to move out. Others may not even realize that they are stuck by their own comfort and fear of change. I’m sure some feel stuck for a combination of these reasons.
There are people who love working at Denso, and they have their reasons as well. It’s been a very stable company traditionally, and for someone who is worried about layoffs or job shortages it’s a very compelling reason for working there. In my mind, that sort of falls into the fear (real or imagined) that they don’t have the skill set to go elsewhere. But hey, if you’re happy I’m happy, right? There are others who are basically coasting, but I think that’s probably common at most big companies as well.
For me, the good outweighed the bad for most of the time I was there. Were there things I didn’t like? Most definitely. For instance, you can forget about anything like this ever happening there. They (whoever “they” are) would never allow it. The performance evaluation system is a mirage for the most part, and I doubt that will ever change. But I really enjoyed the work I was doing, and I hated leaving my co-workers. Loving what you do and liking the people you spend your days with is not something you can find just anywhere, and it kept me around for a long time. However, I was ultimately placed in a situation that was going to make my relationship with the company much more lopsided than I was comfortable with. I’m not one to stay around and complain, especially knowing that change, if it does come, is slow for Denso. I’m no victim either, and besides, I have confidence in my skills. The only immediate way to resolve the problem was with compensation. How did that discussion go? Well, I’m a former employee. 🙂
I always found it a little ironic that Denso spends a great amount of resources trying to figure out how to recruit engineers out of college but doesn’t seem to find much value in retention of engineers and technical staff. HR held regular meetings with engineers on how to recruit from colleges, and they usually ended in engineers expressing that exact sentiment. It may be that Denso has a reputation on campuses as the type of company that isn’t attractive to today’s college students. Is that reputation based on what they hear from Denso employees and on the web? Does it come from fellow students who do co-ops at Denso? I can’t say for sure.
I don’t know the numbers or stats, but it seems like replacing good people would be much more expensive than retaining them. However, they make billions, and I make not-billions, so who am I to second guess them? Maybe they’ve calculated all the factors and decided that paying competitive salaries for years of experience would put them in a situation where no one would ever leave. Would zero turnover be as bad as high turnover? Dunno.
So the point of this post–is Denso a great place to work? I guess it depends on what you want from a job. It was great for me for a long time. As I said before, I enjoyed the work I did at Denso and the people I worked with, although I must say there were very few jobs or departments there I would have enjoyed as much as I enjoyed mine. Jobs that provide opportunities to develop skills that are universally marketable are somewhat limited there. If stability is a major factor for you, then by all means it is a great place to work. As with almost everything else, you’ll probably have to compromise a few things that you’d like to have in exchange for this stability, but it’s worth it for a lot of people.
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