Amid Massive Layoffs, Big Tech's Dream Job Is Losing Its Luster

Amid Massive Layoffs, Big Tech’s Dream Job Is Losing Its Luster

For decades, Silicon Valley tech darlings like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter have set the gold standard for success in the tech space. Employees wanted to work for innovative leaders, enjoy expansive campuses that meet all their needs, and use their talents to develop some of the world’s most influential technologies.

But the last few years, and especially the pandemic, have begun to show the cracks in the facade to unveil the shortcomings of each company, from data leaks to worker mistreatment lawsuits to executive uproar.

And with the latest round of layoffs from Twitter, Meta and Amazon within weeks, that could be enough to tarnish the once-rented dream companies everyone apparently wanted to work for.

For example, after Twitter laid off 3,700 employees on November 4, 11% of remaining employees said they believed the company would succeed under Elon Musk’s leadership, according to a survey of 442 U.S. Twitter employees on Blind, the anonymous employee chatroom, from 7-10 november. (Blind users must provide their work email address, job title, and employer when joining the platform, and are sometimes asked to double-check their accounts.)

Only 2% would recommend Twitter as an employer to their friends, and 1% believe the company treated employees with dignity and empathy during the layoff.

After Meta laid off 11,000 employees on November 9, 31% of the remaining employees said they would recommend their employer to a friend, and 55% believe the company acted cautiously during the layoff, according to a survey of 1,179 American Meta workers on Blind Nov. 10-11

Beyond public scrutiny and scandal, news of layoffs could have an outsized impact on whether people say a certain company is a good place to work, and the latest round of sweeping cuts could indicate that Silicon Valley’s Big Tech darlings are losing their luster.

Companies face ‘reputational risk’ over layoffs

The layoffs create a clear “reputational risk” and “employer brand impact,” says Rick Chen, public relations manager for Blind.

He uses Snap as an example, which laid off 20% of its staff, or about 1,000 people, in August.

Prior to the layoffs, between 75% and 85% of Snap employees surveyed said they would recommend their employer to a friend. After the layoffs, however, that confidence dropped to 30% of Snap employees who would recommend their employer to a friend.

“It’s clear that layoffs have changed the perception of Snap as an employer of choice,” Chen says, “and we’re seeing the same trend at larger companies. We’re seeing layoffs having a big impact on employer brand that they have built over time.”

The reputation of an employer’s brand is a big deal for tech workers who know their skills are in demand: nearly 90% say an employer’s brand is important when considering a new job, and almost 80% would not apply for a higher position. paid employment at a disreputable company, according to a July survey of 950 people by Dice, a career site for tech workers.

It’s not just about the layoffs themselves, but how they’re handled, Chen says. Do terminated employees receive severance pay? Was the news communicated in a timely and clear manner? Did employees feel like they were treated with empathy?

Leaders only have one shot to get it right. “We’ve seen some investors recommend, if you’re going to have a layoff, do it once, do it deep and be it,” Chen says. “Looking at the reactions on Blind, I’d say that advice is warranted.”

He cites Robinhood as an example, which cut 9% of its staff in April and then another 23% in August.

“In the second round of layoffs, their reputation hadn’t even recovered from the first,” Chen says, adding that Blind did not conduct a follow-up survey to see if employee sentiment rebounded.

‘Tides are changing’ around what’s considered the ‘gold standard’ of tech jobs

For the past two decades, “having a company name like Google, Microsoft, or Amazon on your resume has been the gold standard” for tech workers, says Art Zeile, CEO of Dice. “There is no doubt about it.”

These days, however, the “changing tides” around what employees want beyond name recognition. One Shift: A Dice survey shows around 60% of tech workers want to work from home 100% of the time, even as many companies renewed their back-to-office efforts this year.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, tech workers left expensive areas around Silicon Valley, Seattle and New York, Zeile says, and instead headed to growing cities where their wages technologies extend further, such as Austin, Texas; Salt Lake City; or Charlotte, North Carolina

“The combination of layoffs and some companies with the old-school mentality around office work — their reputation is going to be tarnished, and there won’t be that interest among the tech crowd,” Zeile said. Thanks to widespread remote work, he says people are realizing “you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to have a great tech career.”

Companies from Google to Meta are also slashing lavish campus perks, like free food and laundry services, that have become synonymous with the Silicon Valley work experience.

Without the fun extras, companies will have to win workers over by offering job security, learning opportunities and the ability to make an impact, which tech workers are increasingly prioritizing, Chen says. .

So far, while some companies have faced turbulence in recent weeks, Google, Atlassian, Salesforce and TikTok remain “employers of choice” among tech workers on Blind.

“Some of these Disneyland conveniences will definitely go away,” Chen says, “but ultimately, many tech professionals are communicating on Blind that they’re currently interested in joining some of these tech companies because of the mission, and the scale and impact they are able to accomplish with the work.”

Despite layoffs, tech workers still have plenty of options

Whether in the tech industry or elsewhere, the demand for workers with tech skills remains exorbitant. In October, there were 317,000 open tech jobs in the United States, more than the roughly 200,000 to 250,000 open tech jobs posted per month before the pandemic, Zeile says.

Most of the employers he works with say it’s still incredibly difficult to hire for certain positions, especially in data science, cybersecurity or cloud engineering, and recruiters are looking to recruit affected workers. by layoffs.

The success of companies facing layoffs could hinge on how much risk tech job seekers are willing to take, despite recession worries, says longtime tech executive Daphne E. Jones and founder of The Board Curators, a consulting firm that prepares senior leaders to serve on paid boards. “If job security is what you want, you can be a huge fish in a small pond” and take your Big Tech credentials to work at a company outside of the tech industry, she says. “But if innovation is your thing, [Big Tech] businesses haven’t lost their shine.”

Overall, despite the dramatic headlines, Chen says, “Employees still have choices. Professionals are still discussing making career changes amid this uncertainty. There are certainly employers who benefit from being able to demonstrate that ‘they’re a stable employer, and it shows the importance of employer brand that companies have either built and retained or mismanaged at all.’

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