Facebook employees fear job losses and pay cuts

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Facebook has a message for employees, a message delivered relentlessly by executives in recent weeks: It’s time to take shape.

In a memo earlier this month, the company’s top human resources manager advised team leaders to return to the “rigorous performance management” practices Facebook used before the coronavirus pandemic, including giving critical comments to struggling employees.

“If someone is still not able to meet expectations with this additional support, transitioning out of Meta is the right thing to do, wrote Lori Goler in a note seen by the Washington Post.

The missive, one of several recent such messages to staff at the social media giant, is part of a broader crackdown after years of laxer management practices, according to current and former employees who spoke under on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive and internal issues. posted messages obtained by the Washington Post.

Facebook executives issued a dizzying array of guidelines, outlining a new era of higher performance expectations and slowing hiring as the company emerges from the pandemic with a growing list of economic challenges.

“The atmosphere is intense,” said one of the employees. “People know that budgets are being cut.”

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Direct messages from business leaders have created a wave of anxiety and resentment among Facebook employees, as many employees wonder how the company’s new priorities will affect their own careers, according to current and former employees. Some fear losing their jobs or seeing their annual premiums reduced. Others worry that an already harsh corporate environment could become even more competitive as employees compete less for promotions, raises and coveted positions, the people said.

“Any business that wants to have a lasting impact must practice disciplined prioritization and work with high intensity to achieve its goals,” Facebook spokeswoman Tracy Clayton said in a statement.

Once a symbol of Silicon Valley‘s prosperity, Facebook has for years provided its employees with cutting-edge benefits such as free food, generous family benefits and some of the highest salaries in the tech industry. The lucrative compensation, along with the allure of tackling interesting issues at a company transforming the way billions of people communicate, has given Facebook an edge in recruiting and retaining top-notch talent.

Now, that mystique is cracking as Facebook grapples with both the macro challenges that drive many tech companies and threats specific to its business. The company’s share price has halved this year, after dismal results in March reflecting that its advertising business has been harmed by Apple’s decision to impose a new privacy rule to block data collection for targeted advertising.

Meanwhile, the growth of its floret social network stalled for the first time last year, as the company faced unprecedented competition for young users, creators and advertiser dollars from new social media platforms, such as TikTok and Snapchat.

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Last year, the company changed its name to Meta, reflecting a big bet to stake its future on building the so-called Metaverse. The division, which aims to create immersive digital realms accessible by VR-powered devices, is, for now, a money-losing business, according to company filings.

This means that many of Facebook’s managers and human resources representatives must take on a whole new responsibility: leading a workforce of 77,000 members during a downturn.

“Morale, not just at Facebook but across big tech, has dropped dramatically because it’s a fairy tale story over the past decade,” said Dan Ives, an analyst at financial services firm Wedbush Securities. . Now, between the metaverse and specific business challenges, “it’s a darker chapter for the business that they have to navigate.”

There are signs that Facebook is making changes. The company recently reassigned people from its Facebook News tab and Bulletin newsletter platform as those teams focus on engaging creators on their social channels, according to the company. And at least one full-time employee has already been told that his role is no longer needed and that he should seek another job within the company or leave, according to to an employee familiar with the file.

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Facebook’s diversity manager, Maxine Williams, said in an interview last week that the company hasn’t imposed a formal hiring freeze, but acknowledged that some hiring goals for certain roles or departments are changing. She said team leaders are asked to determine which open roles are really needed and which are not. Managers can also move employees from low-priority roles to bigger projects, Williams said.

“The way we do it is kind of to remind managers like you that they need to focus,” Williams said. “If we don’t concentrate well, we’ll be scattered all over the place, doing everything and doing nothing very well.”

Zuckerberg and other executives have also indicated in recent weeks that time is up for employees who fail to meet company standards. Facebook’s head of engineering Maher Saba sent a memo to managers earlier this month encouraging them to identify poor performance and integrate it into an internal human resources system. “As a manager, you can’t allow someone to be net neutral or negative for Meta,” Saba said.

Many inside Facebook worry that the strong rhetoric from executives about the need to weed out underperformers is just a cover to start making bigger cuts — ones that can include adequately performing workers. That anxiety was evident on Blind, a work app that gives users with Facebook email unlimited access to a private, anonymous message board.

The forum, usually a place where Facebook employees offer their candid opinions about their workplace, has in recent weeks turned into a breeding ground for worker resentment, concerns over the company’s financial direction and anxieties about a future with the company, according to messages seen by The Washington Post.

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“It’s sad [that] after many years in Meta things [are going down] this way the culture is going to hell,” one user wrote. “Before you say it, I’m leaving, just waiting for my September bonus because I’ve worked hard to earn it.”

“Does anyone feel safe here?” posted another employee.

Williams and others within Facebook have argued that executives’ focus on targeting poor performance reflects a desire to instill the rigorous culture of employee performance management that existed before the pandemic. In early 2020, Facebook suspended its semi-annual performance reviews and offered generous covid-19 leave policies so employees felt free to juggle the demands of home and their jobs.

Some employees agree that the management culture at Facebook has gotten — in some cases — a bit too soft during the pandemic.

Williams said it likely depends on when the employee started working for Facebook and how long they’ve been in the workforce. Those who have worked for other companies have probably experienced this culture before.

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But Facebook employees are also worried that economic uncertainties and the company’s tightening belt will make it harder to get promotions, better pay or more lucrative bonuses, the sources said.

In Silicon Valley, stocks typically make up a big chunk of compensation, and a drop makes it harder for companies to attract and retain talent.

“Honestly just thinking about taking a break and living off my savings or doing something low key until this economic cycle passes,” one user wrote on Blind. “I don’t want to work under constant pressure.”

Another factor adding to the uncertainty is the company’s move to a semi-annual schedule for performance reviews. Clayton said in a statement that the company has embraced the new model., with a single review per year, to “better reflect the company’s orientation in thinking about remote work”. He added that employees “have always been held accountable for a goal-based, high-performance culture.”

Typically, managers were asked to assign a wide range of ratings to their reports, as this employee only meets certain expectations. of their job to that worker redefines the expectations of their role, according to current and former employees.

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Then, managers – in coordination with the human resources department – ​​ensured that the ratings were “calibrated” between teams, with at least some employees receiving lower ratings, the people said.

While the rigidity of the process seemed fair on paper, in practice it meant that some good workers ended up getting lower grades simply because their manager was pressured to complete the category, according to some employees. If Facebook wants to downsize its workforce, it might be harder to get higher ratings and easier to get lower ratings.

“It looks like a change in the internal culture. If I was still around, it would definitely make me more nervous than ever about the reviews,” said Crystal Patterson, a former Facebook lobbyist. “The evaluation process is naturally stressful. The bar is extremely high there.

Elizabeth Dwoskin contributed reporting.

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