At the International Synthetic Products Exhibition in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, on October 18, 2019, a man holding a phone by going to the logo of a Chinese company called Buidance’s app Tiktok.
LONDON – Many UK-based tech workers are deciding whether to accept or pursue a job at Tiktok, fearing the company’s intense work culture in long and demanding hours.
Six people in the industry told CNBC that they either didn’t take the interview, turned down the job offer, or learned that Tiktok has a “996” culture, either through online reviews or first-hand experience.
996 Culture Some companies in China are following. It is named after an employee who works six days a week from 9am to 9pm, working 72 hours a week. Meanwhile, the norm in the US and UK is around 40 hours per week, although many workers go there. In the UK, it is illegal to work more than 48 hours a week on average.
Tiktok, who owns China’s ByteDance, declined to comment when asked about the culture and working hours of the staff.
‘I quickly stopped talking’
A tech employee contacted about the communications role in the UK told CNBC that the 996 culture is definitely a concern for them.
Asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the discussion, the source said: . “(It) didn’t seem so useful.”
The source added: “Once I installed, I quickly stopped conversations because they had too much flexibility about working locations and policies.”
The same person said he was approached a few weeks later for “exactly the same role” at Bydance. “I established from the background reading and Glasdor reviews that they are the same,” he said, adding that “everything is weird” and “a lucky miss.”
Announcing on Friday that ByteDance Chief Financial Officer Shaw Zhi Chu has been named the new CEO of Tiktok, Tiktok did not even consider some technical skills. The senior artificial intelligence researcher, who declined to be named due to the nature of the discussion, turned down a job offer from Tiktok, even though the recruiter offered him a salary of, 100,000 a year ($ 1,00,000) and more.
“I went to Glassdoor. When it comes to work / life balance, it doesn’t feel positive, which I think is really valuable. I was a little worried about that,” the source said, adding that the reviews added to them. Instead of accepting the role, it was not just a factor.
While Glassdor is considered a comprehensive platform for companies to take proper care of how things are inside, they are not perfect and should be reviewed with a grain of salt. People are able to post multiple reviews and if they have a very positive or highly negative experience, users will be more willing to review their company. But four former employees told CNBC they had a negative experience at the company, whose video-sharing app has been downloaded 2 billion times.
One of the former employees, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the discussion, told CNBC that Tiktok is the most toxic workplace he has ever experienced.
“Everyone there is miserable and life is too short,” the source said. “In my first year before the outbreak of the epidemic, I could possibly count four or five weekends during the year I didn’t work.”
The source added: “People deserve to be let go and I know they’re struggling for jobs now, but in the end they don’t care in any way, people are just their numbers.”
Another former employee, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussion, told CNBC that the average working day at Tiktok was 15 hours. “It was normal for them,” the source said. “Everyone was complaining but really everyone was finally accepting it, probably because the salary was good.”
The same person said they don’t like “very disreputable culture”. The former employee said that when he asked questions about the company, he did not get back answers. “It was very difficult to get the right answers and to really improve the process we were working on,” the source said.
‘AVOID, AVOID, AVOID’
Two other former employees echoed the case, asking to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of the discussion, and one of them referred CNBC to a review on their own GlassDore, entitled “AVID, AVOID, AVOID.” In the one-star review, individuals listed 10 reasons to avoid the temptation to join (Tiktok) and appear elsewhere. Criticism ranges from “zero work life balance” to “toxic team” and “terrible management.”
TicketTalk is expanding its workforce around the world to help it cope with the pressures that come with being a hugely popular social media app. This includes content regulation as well as technical and strategic matters.
In an effort to improve culture in the workplace, Tiktok appointed Mitchell Usman on Facebook as head of culture in Europe in January. But her arrival comes after dozens of departures.
An AI researcher, who was not directly contacted about the role and was asked to remain anonymous because of the nature of the discussion, told CNBC: “I know Tiktok is having a lot of discussions with people. There is a dearth of people who can lead the (AI) laboratory. “
Some people are clearly reluctant to join, but the company has made its head count in Europe today from around 1,600 in September to over 1,000 head, with many joining from Facebook and Google. The UK and worldwide declined to share staff numbers.
Winnie Akadjo joined Tiktok this month as producer operations manager. “There are some interesting reviews about Glassdour but I want to take a leap; and I’m confident in my ability to handle the scaling company,” she told CNBC.
Another current employee who wanted to remain anonymous told CNBC that he did not experience the 99996 culture and said that work meetings are banned at lunchtime on Wednesdays and I do not hold meetings on Friday afternoons.
Meanwhile, Tik Tokla was ranked 30th best place to work in the UK by Great Place to Work. The survey and consulting company charges a fee before appearing on the list of companies, but claims that the ranking is determined entirely by the experience of the employees and their anonymous feedback.
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