Former Facebook employees report the work culture at the social media giant resembles a “cult,” according to CNBC.
Facebook, which has been known to be one of the best places to work in Silicon Valley, has been slipping in the rankings, as employees feel increased pressure to put the company above other things in their lives.
CNBC reported that Facebook has fallen from being the best place to work in the U.S. to being no. 7, according to the employment review site Glassdoor. (The global management consulting firm Bain & Co. was no. 1.)
The freedom of Facebook employees to behave in public hit the news after Joel Kaplan, the company’s vice president of global public policy, attended a Senate Judiary Committee hearing in October to support then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Employee complaints about the company’s culture arose at an emotional town hall-style meeting held to address the controversy.
“I was reticent to speak, Sheryl, because the pressure for us to act as though everything is fine and that we love working here is so great that it hurts,” one employee at the meeting told Chief Operations Officer Sheryl Sandberg, according to CNBC.
“There shouldn’t be this pressure to pretend to love something when I don’t feel this way.”
In its report, CNBC said it spoke to “more than a dozen former Facebook employees who left between late 2016 and the end of 2018,” in an effort to get a clear picture of the work culture at the social media giant.
Naturally, ex-employees of any company could be expected to have some complaints, but the picture that emerges of Facebook is considerably different from the social media giant’s public image.
One former employee told CNBC that those who work for the social media giant don’t complain in their workplace.
“There’s a real culture of, ‘Even if you are f—ing miserable, you need to act like you love this place,’” said the ex-employee, who left in October of 2018.
“It is not OK to act like this is not the best place to work.”
During their interviews, the former employees described a “stack ranking” employee performance evaluation system.
The system requires that five co-workers assess each worker every six months.
The evaluations were sent in anonymously, however the employee was able to choose their evaluators — so it was questionable just how “anonymous” the process was.
That system, turned the work environment into something like a popularity contest, according to CNBC’s report.
On the other hand, it could not be challenged — leaving a potential stain on an employee’s record.
“You have invisible charges against you, and that figures mightily into your review,” one ex-employee told CNBC. “Your negative feedback can haunt you for all your days at Facebook.”
Additionally, Sandberg’s mantra of “authentic self” was not something that the company fostered as much as it would have led the public to believe.
“I never felt it was an environment that truly encouraged ‘authentic self’ and encouraged real dissent because the times I personally did it, I always got calls,” said one former manager who left the company in early 2018.
A second former employee, who left in 2017, reported the same experience with Facebook leadership.
“What comes with scale and larger operations is you can’t afford to have too much individual voice,” said this person.
“If you have an army, the larger the army is, the less individuals have voice. They have to follow the leader.”
According to the former employees, the company keeps its workers in “a bubble” in which they not only work, but are encouraged to participate in after-hours activities — and potentially penalized if they didn’t.
The employees also said they were discouraged from giving their opinions in the workplace if they were negative.
“I’m pretty disappointed in that because I have a lot of respect for Sheryl, and she preaches about giving hard feedback,” the employee said.
“All the things we were preaching, we weren’t doing enough of them. We weren’t having enough hard conversations. They need to realize that.
“They need to reflect and ask if they’re having hard conversations or just being echo chambers of themselves.”
Some of the former employees interviewed said that the constant positive face put on working for Facebook can be seen on the employee’s personal Facebook pages, where they constantly talk about the perks of working for the company and draw attention to the company’s positive impact.
“People are very mindful about who they’re connected with on Facebook, who they also work with and how what they’re posting will put them in a favorable light to their managers,” said an employee who left in 2016.
That public face, however, does not reflect what many experience when working for the Silicon Valley giant, according to the same employee.
“There’s so many people there who are unhappy, but their Facebook posts alone don’t reflect the backdoor conversations you have with people where they’re crying and really unhappy.”
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