Big Tech has always been seen as “culture-obsessed” and viewed by many as a dream place to work. Yet the golden era appears to be over and workplace issues in tech land are piling up.
Mass layoffs and resignations, allegations about toxic cultures, and a certain social media boss’s outlandish leadership style have been fueling a media storm.
But what does the workforce believe to be Big Tech’s biggest problem in 2023?
To find out, our data analysts reviewed nearly a quarter of a million Glassdoor reviews for 25 of the world’s largest internet companies with annual revenues exceeding US$1 billion and headquarters solely based in the US. The list included Google, Meta, Twitter, and PayPal, amongst other notable tech giants.
Big Tech’s Biggest Problems According to Employee Reviews
The study, which analyzed 245,990 Glassdoor reviews, reveals ‘management and leadership’ is the biggest issue within Big Tech companies, according to current and former employees. It was cited negatively 47,246 times—or 19% of the time.
The second biggest issue within Big Tech corporations relates to employee ‘health and wellbeing’. Complaints including “long hours”, “work-life balance”, “stress” and “burnout” were mentioned 10% of the time in staff reviews (26,329 times).
Despite Big Tech being early adopters of the well-being agenda, the data corroborates earlier statistics published by the workplace app Blind which found close to 60% of tech professionals suffer from burnout.
Complaints about ‘company values and culture’ feature 9% of the time in employee reviews (23,621 mentions).
Interestingly, negative opinions on companies’ ‘diversity, equality and inclusion’ (DEI) programs are minimal—with keywords including “bullying”, “racism”, and “sexism” mentioned just 1,136 times (or 0.5% of the time).
In recent years, tech majors have stepped up hiring and made DEI a priority. But as the industry grapples with the hangover from over-hiring, rising interest rates, and changes in consumer behavior, many tech companies have announced deep cuts, especially to DEI roles, risking their diversity gains.
Big Tech’s Biggest Positives According to Employee Reviews
The study shows employees think their ‘financial compensation, benefits, and rewards’ are the biggest pro of working in tech companies. This category was mentioned positively within staff Glassdoor reviews 29% of the time (72,433)—the highest figure by over 10%.
Sizeable total compensation (salaries plus bonuses or equity) is a big draw for tech jobs, but it’s also led to unsustainable salaries and cost-of-living inflation in tech hubs, such as Silicon Valley, which is affecting Big Tech’s ability to hire talent and afford its wage bills as share values become more volatile.
It’s also worth noting that money isn’t everything, and today employees are placing more value on self-care, personal development opportunities, and time away from the workplace.
This leads to the second most common positive aspect of working in Big Tech; ‘company values and workplace culture’ keywords are cited in a positive way 24% of the time (58,963 mentions), too.
The fact this was mentioned so many times, in both positive and negative reviews, suggests that perspectives on what constitutes a good company culture vary among staff and across Big Tech companies.
‘Learning and career development’ related pros feature 3.5% of the time in the reviews studied. Praise for “training” and “career progression”, amongst other relevant factors, was not overly prevalent but still mentioned over 8,500 times.
While it can sometimes be overlooked by employers, there are several reasons to invest in employee development, including increased proficiency and enhancing your value proposition for potential hires.
Again, ‘diversity, equality and inclusion’ was cited very few times as a pro of working in the companies analyzed. Just 70 mentions of related keywords featured positively in the quarter of a million reviews studied, suggesting DEI programs are typically not something employees praise their Big Tech employees for—at least publicly.
How Do Individual Companies Compare?
Taking a closer look at how the individual companies compare, the data reveals some interesting results.
‘Company values and culture’ is mentioned positively 42.4% of the time by employees at Workday, an HR software vendor. And Expedia tops the list for its approach to health and well-being, with staff expressing positive opinions 16.5% of the time.
“Financial compensation, benefits, and rewards” were cited as positives over 55% of the time in reviews for Meta, suggesting the tech giant has consistently prioritized generous compensation for employees, past and present.
Ecommerce platform, Wayfair, on the other hand, performs the worst in this category, with staff citing this as an issue 16.5% of the time. They also have the biggest problem with poor management and leadership, according to the reviews and companies analyzed, with reviews negatively talking about this 37.4% of the time.
Netflix, Chewy, and Zillow are each the most highly praised of all companies analyzed for “diversity, equality and inclusion”, “learning and career development”, and “management and leadership” respectively. But all three companies are also the most poorly rated in the study when looking at other areas.
Being highly commended for certain factors, and yet still receiving numerous complaints about others, shows how easy it is to focus on one area of the business to the detriment of others.
Balance is key, but listening to your employees and their priorities is likely the best way to keep as many people happy as possible. For help with this, take a read of 8 Effective Ways To Get Employee Feedback (+ Pros and Cons).
The findings suggest that to increase employee satisfaction Big Tech companies should focus on the quality of their managers.
Indeed this corroborates our research into why people quit their jobs, which revealed that bad leadership as being one of the leading causes of employee turnover.
Some resources to help here:
- People Management Tips For New And Experienced Managers
- How To Build Emotional Intelligence And Be A Better Leader
- Clarity, Responsibility, And Accountability (CRA) Model Of Leadership
- 5 Challenges Of Managing Remote Employees And How To Overcome Them
People Managing People used the Screaming Frog SEO Spider to scrape the pros and cons section of every review left on the Glassdoor profile of the 25 largest internet companies with headquarters solely in the US as of the 14th December 2022. Overall, 245,990 Glassdoor reviews were analyzed.
Please note Booking Holding had a limited number of reviews, so we analyzed Booking.com instead as the company’s main subsidiary.
We created a seed list of keywords relevant to employment experience and grouped these into categories based on similarity. We then identified the number of times each keyword was mentioned in the pros and cons sections of each company’s reviews, as well as working out the overall group figures by totaling together the individual figures for each keyword within a group.
The number of mentions was also converted into percentages by dividing the number of mentions by the total number of reviews analyzed—this applies per company, per group, and for overall figures.
Please note that keywords could be mentioned multiple times in one review, so the data shows the percentage of the time that a keyword is mentioned, not the number of reviews a keyword is mentioned in