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waterstones Employee Reviews

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United Kingdom195 reviews

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3.6Work-life balance

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Probably working in a bookshop looked better but zero respect for cafe teams or support with their challenges. Very high turnover, no benefits or chances to progress
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I enjoyed the job would like to work there again

I enjoyed working at waterstones I worked in various departments and was given the chance to learn new skills I worked there threw an agency .It was only that I had health problems with my knee which required surgery that I had to leave agency


Nice canteen friendly management


Toilets could of been better at times
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Insights into waterstones

Based on 34 survey responses
What people like
  • Time and location flexibility
  • Ability to meet personal goals
  • Feeling of personal appreciation
Areas for improvement
  • Fair pay for job
  • Support from manager

Great place

Excellent place to start working, especially if you didn't have any previous experience with making coffee. The staff is really friendly and easy to communicate with.
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Worst retail job EVER

Hired me as a 'Peak bookseller' and stuck me in the basement for four weeks until I quit.21 shifts and 20 of them were putting away deliveries ALL DAY LONG.Factory/warehouse type work on minimum wage.Pallets and pallets of hardback books. Some deliveries were like 200 boxes, 35 pallets etc.Staff members crying everywhere. Management shouting at staff. Breaks change throughout the shift to suit deliveries.I went to Waterstones after 20 years of hospitality and it shockingly became my worst job so far.


Weekends off


They will eat your soul
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Although the cafe gets very busy we had an incredible team and environment to support us.

What is the best part of working at the company?The community of people in the cafe, and the manager. Such lovely and open minded individuals.What is the most stressful part about working at the company?The cafe got incredibly packed, especially during the holidays you had no time to rest (apart from breaks). What is the work environment and culture like at the company?Amazing, i loved working here with such lovely people. LGBTQ individuals are so welcome, this was a safe place in my eyes.What is a typical day like for you at the company?Shift starts 9:30am when the cafe was already opened. We were allowed to coffe at any time during the shift for free, and half price on all foods and books. The break was 1h30m, and you could take it separately. Shift would end around 18:00pm after cleaning the cafe.
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Great place to work

Nice colleagues and staff, was only working part time so didn't have much opportunity to get more hours or have any progression. Seems that it is a case if waiting for someone to leave before you can progress.
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I learn a lot from here

What is the best part of working at the company?I love books which is best to deal with.What is the most stressful part about working at the company?System freezing many times and no appreciation for your hard work. Slow processWhat is the work environment and culture like at the company?Environment is not bad. They respect other communities and religion a lot.Colleges are frank and helpful with each otherWhat is a typical day like for you at the company?When no work no system but you need to do something you really not comfortable with that
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Cafe in Waterston is a joke

Used to work in their cafes and it is such a shame that they do not care at all about their cafes. They treat it like a canteen. Horrible. Could be so much better. The pressure from management is ridiculous. They come up with these crazy marketing ideas but implement it too late.. summer smoothies as an example came ou at the end of August. Disorganised! High expectations from staff that are not well trained nor supported. Bookstore staff think they are better than cafe staff. They want it to be one shop but they treat staff differently.


Free books from publishers sometimes and 50%off


Pay for your food 50%off, not allowed to take wastage home, bookstore not engaging with cafe, old managers of bookshops clearly doing things like 24years ago
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Engaging work with limited opportunities

Engaging and stimulating if you enjoy books, reading, and being able to interface with customers on the literary sphere. There are limited opportunities to advance within the company unless somebody basically either leaves or dies, so don't anticipate to be working in the role longterm. To my knowledge basically every branch in the UK are operating on a skeleton crew, so expect to be working the shopfloor by yourself frequently, and for the entire branch to go into meltdown if a colleague gets sick/injured/has to call out. The discount is good (50% everything instore).
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Hatchards portrays itself as literary and bespoke bookshop that provides customers with literature they may not find in other book stores and a rarefied bookshop experience. In reality it’s a minimum wage retail that exploits the knowledge and enthusiasm of its staff by middle management who are cynical and disengenous often confusing smarmy with genuine interaction. It’s initial shallow charm soon curdles into pretension of an bookshop .


It’s sell books


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Great history but stressful job role

Great company history but the job role was very stressful. Travelling into London from the suburbs when the company moved thier head office from Brentford put alot of strain on me financially as I was having to take a train and a bus to work rather than to drive.


None after the move to Piccidally


Long hours including travel, no management support
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The pay at waterstones is minimum wage, yet you're expected to have a huge wealth of knowledge about books of every genre. They totally take advantage of the fact that if you're a book lover you'll probably be so happy at working in a bookstore that you won't care about the wage. Management are shocking, bullying prevails. Great staff benefit of 50% discount and also free books - proof copies etc. Again, this is what keeps a lot of people working there when they know that they're being paid way below par.




Shockingly bad pay and bad management
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Fun and wholesome environment.

Working at two different stores provided me with two fairly different experiences. In one store, I felt right at home and was given a clear path in terms of progression through the company. Once I moved stores, that progression wasn't as heavily focused on. Overall, I've had a mostly positive experience with working here and it can be quite fun and engaging if you're working near a section you know a lot about.


Nice co-workers, Staff Discount
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Not a great place to work

-Weak leadership -Passive aggressive management styles -No one takes accountability for their miscommunication and/or misunderstandings -Over complicated processes, that create bigger issues due to trying to manage too many people for one job -lack of understanding, not a very 'human' place to work -no room for individual personalitiesThe company needs to understand the generation of people they're currently hiring. Update management training to accommodate such a change. Put better structures in place and focus on maintaining better working relationships with your employees.
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fantastic colleagues but poorly organised

i enjoyed my time working here quite a lot. the day to day activities are quite routine and can be a bit boring at times but the customers were generally nice and the other people who work there are so kind and fun to talk to that it was a nice environment. the biggest issue is that there is such poor organisation further up the company. the rota’s are frequently given with only a day or so of notice, and as en employee you have no direct contact with the person who makes the rotas as she works in another store. she has also been known to ignore booked holiday when making rotas which was so awkward to rectify. the pay isn’t worth the expertise required for the job, along with having to be on your feet all day. book selling is a very glamorised job, but it is worth keeping in mind that it is essentially just a minimum wage retail job.
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Overworked and understaffed

While working in a book shop is often thought of as a lovely job, times have changed. Since being purchased by an American hedge fund, Waterstones has become extremely corporate, understaffed with more pressure brought to bare on the shop floor. Lots of middle managers dip in from store to store, pointing out what is wrong and everyone is left deflated. Booksellers on pretty much minimum wage are expected to work in different stores and are often having to work on their weekends off because there isn’t enough staff to cover. Likewise working all day in stores on their own. The attitude seems to be that if you want the job then just do it and don’t complain. Poorly trained managers with little experience are heading teams and personal information is left on the computer for anyone to access. I found my entire review for anyone to look through and heard a branch manager discussing someone’s mental health issues on the mobile on the shop floor, including the persons name. These kind of things are unacceptable but seem commonplace. People who speak out are turned upon. Waterstones needs to take a good look at how it treats its staff and start proving the staffing and quality equipment to do the job properly, before they start complaining about their bookseller’s ability to do the job.


Great discount


understaffed and poor management
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Chronically understaffed

In the main I really do like working at Waterstones but we are always understaffed, invariably not getting our full lunch hour off even though we are unpaid for that hour. We are so busy all of the time. It’s actually very stressful considering it’s a minimum wage shop job. They have very high expectations.
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Not worth it

Working in a cafe and the company doesn't understand how cafes work.You have to work with very dated equipment and the customers are very rude. There is no communication with the bookshop and often no one knows what going on.
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Excellent workmates - just not enough of them

I enjoyed working with my small team but we were under staffed and under appreciated. Cafe workers are seen as less than booksellers and treated as such. The black out periods for holidays were ridiculous. Higher management didn’t follow any of the protocol or reviews they were meant to for my progress and communication was horrible. It could be such a lovely place to work, but currently it isn’t.


Discount on books and free proofs. Discount on cafe items.


Badly organised, Rotas are made by someone from another store who only does that job two days a week.
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Started off as a promising, enjoyable job but then went downhill...

Overall the job was ok. Did enjoy aspects of it and had some memorable times as well as made some long term friends from the job. Author events etc were some great memorable experiences though my love for the job soured in the last 4 years of working there. No opportunities for progression, extremely poor management, lack of staff (we started off with about 25 staff overall when I first started working there then eventually whittled down to 7 members of staff inclusive of managers but only 3 to run the whole shop on a daily basis...) then there was the poor staff morale all of which ended up being detriment to my own mental health so had to leave.


Being around books and latest bestsellers, author talks and children's events, taking part in regular storytimes


Lack of staff, poor staff morale, poor management, stressful, lack of progression
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It's alright

It's not a bad place to work by any means, ultimately it is retail so it's never going to be the most exciting. As retail goes the pay is fine once you get to senior level but the pace of advancement after that is typically slow.


Half price books
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Overall rating

Based on 203 reviews

Ratings by category

3.6 out of 5 stars for Work/Life Balance
3.1 out of 5 stars for Salary/Benefits
2.8 out of 5 stars for Job security/advancement
3.1 out of 5 stars for Management
3.6 out of 5 stars for Culture

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