Human Resource Management at Facebook: Passion Lies in the People
The world of technology is just as competitive as it is innovative. Inside those tech companies, work pressure is generally high and so HR needs to be innovative and smart in its approach. You all have heard of the brutal environment inside Microsoft, Amazon and Apple and how complex a job can be at any IT company. However, people are joining IT jobs in larger numbers than ever. How do these companies manage and retain their employees? Not just by paying them well. Microsoft is known for its performance obsessed culture and Apple was known for a brutally competitive environment. However, these are also the companies that do not love failing.
In the recent times, even the companies with the most brutal work cultures have altered their HR strategies and taken a course that suits their employees and culture. Some of them performed so well in HR that they became an inspiration for not just the entire IT world and technology companies but every business. You may have read about how Amazon is coaching its employees for better career management and how Microsoft has done away with its ‘rank and yank’ culture. It is because too high pressure levels kill productivity and can have a worse effect on company culture. When it comes to being the best and most appreciated employers, you will hear the names of Google and Facebook first. Google is not just an innovative company but a brand that has developed a smart and intuitive ecosystem which knows what its employees want before they need it. However, Facebook has also proved very sharp at meeting the challenge. These two tech companies have proved themselves smarter at handling their people.
Facebook – A Young and Aggressive Brand
Not very long ago, business was all about competition, sales and revenue. However, norms have changed now. HR is now the new challenge and some companies have fared much better than their employees’ expectations in this area. Facebook is a major challenger of Google and is being talked of for creating a culture and environment that fosters satisfaction and joy. Glassdoor publishes a list of the best employers every year and Facebook has ranked at the top for 2018. This list is based on the reviews posted by thousands of employees. A few things that stand out among these reviews are that it has maintained a fast moving and challenging environment that is centred on faster learning. Mark Zuckerberg as the CEO has very high approval ratings of higher than 98%. The reviews show that there are ample opportunities of learning and growth at the social media company.
The overall impression that Facebook has is that of a young brand in the making which is aggressive, energetic, passionate and smart. Technology environments can be full of pressure and managing your people is not just compulsory but can help you gain competitive advantage. Google and Facebook are leading in this area and have proved themselves HR leaders. However, the cultures of Google and Facebook are still very different. Glass door is a well known employment agency that surveys the best employers based upon reviews from their employees. On its list, Google ranks fifth while Facebook is at the first position. Facebook’s culture encourages more energy and less formality. That reflects even in its dress code. They use the most casual dressing in the entire corporate world. Even the CEO wears T-shirts and hoodies. This dressing style also keeps the employees in a free mood and passionate.
Open Office Structure for Higher Engagement, More Fun and Greater Satisfaction
Several researchers and important authors in human resource management have studied and highlighted the HR strengths of Facebook. Managing your human capital requires focusing on several things from salaries to perks as well as a respectful environment. In some regards Facebook’s and Google’s strategies are similar. Both are driven by the strategy to create highest satisfaction for their employees. In case of Facebook, its environment is known for higher openness and energy. It has adopted several unique practices that have helped it gain an advantage in the area of HR. Employee convenience is a key focus at both the organizations. Facebook’s practices in this area are quite notable. It has used several strategies to reduce the pressure on its workers and office design is one of them. Far from the cubicle culture, it has established a unique open floor structure.
Life inside the cubicles can be suffocating for the employees and therefore an open office design is used at Facebook to let the employees have more space. While it allows more space to move and breathe, it also allows for higher level of meeting and collaboration. This is clearly logical. There are workplaces where employees remain locked inside their chairs and have little space to move their hands and feet. This can give rise to work stress and can drive the churn rate higher. To reduce the churn rate, you must keep your employees interested and engaged. A dull workplace and work environment can lead to loss of interest and morale. An important message that Google and Facebook have been able to send is that employee productivity does not come from using pressure. It comes from letting them feel like important stakeholders whose participation matters.
What has Facebook done to engage its employees apart from good looking and spacious offices?
Free food with great variety – Facebook takes care of its employees’ taste and has made available a large and varied menu. Being a young company, the menu at Facebook is designed as per the taste of its employees. A large variety of ice creams, cookies, and other milk products and other kind of food including barbecue is available for the workers to tingle their taste buds. If you go over the entire list, you are going to feel spoiled by the variety and quality of the menu. (Dr. J. Sullivan, ERE, 2013). The way to your employees heart goes through their belly.
The quality of food served at Facebook can be as good as in some of the world’s best restaurants. Eating arrangements in the open under the sun make it an enjoyable experience. Gourmet meals at Google are famous but as John Sullivan highlights Facebook is at a clear advantage in terms of knowing the taste and interests of the millennial generation. One thing that very few employers care about is the energy level of their employees and that they need to sustain it. Your HR policies and work environment must be structured in a manner that employees’ energy level is not affected. If employees are full of energy the challenge of worker morale is to an extent solved. Facebook very well understands the challenge. It is why for most employees working at Facebook is a pleasant experience.
Food does not just give energy; good food gives satisfaction, keeps people happy and their energy flowing. A pleasant work environment sustains both worker morale and energy. The millennial generation has grown familiar with these challenges and so selects employers with caution. Free food is an attractive perk. Now, that’s the value of good quality food. As some insiders know Facebook serves food quality that only some of the best restaurants in the world can match. A job at Facebook can be a treat and that’s why the approval ratings of the CEO have remained so high (98%+ is a tough to match approval rating). Most of the reviews on Facebook show very high job satisfaction. Facebook also makes alcohol available to its employees on Fridays. CEO Zuckerberg knows some great ways to engage his employees. The new parents have some amazing rewards for them – parental leave, baby cash and other forms of rewards like reserved parking spaces for the pregnant mothers. It also helps at the retention of the female engineers.
Hobbies, Exercise and Other Forms of Engagement
Facebook has engaged its employees using a large variety of techniques. Exercise, sports and opportunities to pursue their hobbies are also a part of its overall employee engagement strategy. When it is all just work inside an organisation, employees may grow confused and bored. It is why a tech company must allow employees to follow their hobbies. There is a wood workshop at Facebook which engages the employees allowing them to pass their time making wooden sculptures. This helps lose stress and also allows them to use their creativity plus imagination. Such strategies are the best in terms of helping employees stimulate their creativity and express their love for art. Employees make personal items of their choice. Facebook’s ecosystem is different from that of Google. It has an open fitness centre and lots of space for skateboarding and cycling.
Movie theatre and video games also keep the employees busy and happy. The campus location at SanFrancisco bay offers a great view for the bikers. This arrangement as Dr John Sullivan notes, is great for employees mental and physical health. Facebook is clearly using an employee centred strategy. The formula is simple and straightforward. If you keep your employees happy, they make you happier. Facebook employees are happy for other reasons too. The company caters to their personal needs right on the campus. No need to go off campus for any personal needs. Laundry services, hair cut, dry-cleaning, even medical assistance and acupuncture are all available on the campus. Employees can stay after work hours to run their personal errands.
A Culture of Being Bold, Moving Fast, and Taking Risks
At Facebook, it is all about being bold, taking risks and breaking the norms. If you have never broken a norm, you did not move fast enough. In the world of IT and social media, things have to move faster than usual. Failure can happen but that does not mean you should stop taking risks. You must not be afraid of making mistakes because they stop you from being what you can be. It is critical to grab opportunities than to lose them and remain afraid of having made mistakes. Throughout its office facilities, there are slogans painted all over the wall. It signifies a high energy corporate culture. Rather than trying to achieve perfection, you have to try and get things done. At Facebook, they encourage bold decision making and risk taking. If you do not take risks, it implies a situation of stagnancy. It’s a fast changing world and taking no risks is a guarantee of failure. In this world, the normal course is the riskiest and finding new courses can help you stumble upon better opportunities. This attitude helped the company shift its direction and find more success on the mobile platform. The company had realised it years ago that smartphone was going to be the next important platform to drive revenue. The shift Facebook made years ago has helped it grab a larger share from online advertising.
Employee Convenience Matters:
In the technology world work pressure can be very high. In such a scenario, most companies have adopted various strategies to provide their employees relief from work-pressure and to offer them higher convenience. One of them is work from home. However, Facebook manages it in another way. It has established a come to work culture. To make things easier for its employees, it offers free wifi shuttle buses. These buses do not just offer higher convenience, they allow the employees to collaborate on the go. Apart from it, the company offers free train passes, van pools as well as free auto parking.
There are very few firms that treat bicyclists with as much pride as Facebook. There is a full service bike shop on the campus. There are no meetings on Wednesdays and that allows a no interruption day for work. Meetings can affect the flow of work so keeping one day free allows programmers to remain in flow. Many employees use this day to work from home if they want. The level of convenience and engagement at Facebook keeps pressure at check. If work life is as convenient who would not love to work at Facebook? The most loved social media platform is also the best place to work because of how much it loves its workers.
An Excellent Performance Management System
Performance management has grown even important to the management of your employees’ careers. Continuous feedback is necessary to guide the employees and teams and in this regard Facebook is doing a real great job. It provides its employees continuous feedback. Performance appraisal happens twice an year. It is based upon the results obtained from employees and managers using online tools. Typically, seven people are involved in the process of feedback.
Real time success metrics quantifying the results help with ongoing feedback. Rewards at Facebook are based on performance. However, all the endeavour is data driven. Performance results and coworker feedback is used to provide rewards. Facebook uses rewards to guide performance. If there is a wide gap in the rewards for two performers on the same level, it can be because of the gap in performance. Sometimes, the gap can be as high as 300 percent. Two things happen in this way – one performance is rewarded, another performers are retained. While it gives the message that performance is important, it also sends the message that performance will be appreciated.
The overall picture of Facebook is of a young, happy and aggressive company. It is a young brand and to form a clear picture would take more time. However, in this limited period it has continued to impress its employees. At the technology firms, sustaining the employees’ energy level and keeping them engaged can be a tough question. Facebook’s culture has some inherent strengths that differentiate it from other technology brands. It has a young, fast moving and energetic culture and environment that makes the employees feel welcome everyday.
All the benefits and perks are designed in a manner to drive higher satisfaction and greater engagement. CEO Zuckerberg has managed things in a manner that everyone feels included. An environment of inclusion fosters collaboration and retains employees for longer. Most technology firms face high churn rate but if you know how to keep your human capital engaged and satisfied, you can make them do wonders for you. Facebook has its new headquarters at Menlo Park, California. This is where the real charm of these young tycoons like Facebook and Google lies. Very few in the industry have the ability to match what these young companies are doing for their people.