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Why did Facebook and Google fall from the top 10 ‘best places to work’?

12 Dec 2019

Glassdoor’s list of the best places to work in the US has been revealed and, for the first time, Facebook and Google didn’t break the top 10.

This week, Glassdoor revealed its lists of the ‘best places to work’ around the world, including rankings for the US, UK, Singapore and Germany, among others.

For the first time, two of the world’s biggest tech companies – Facebook and Google – have dropped out of the top 10 in the US, despite their long-held reputation of extensive employee perks and benefits, from complimentary meals to free laundry services.

So, why the drop? Glassdoor’s study was carried out through anonymous surveys completed by people working at the companies, with parameters in place to maintain consistency and authenticity, according to the job review and recruitment site.

The responses given by employees are confidential, but recent headlines about staff protests and employee dissatisfaction may offer insights.

Facebook’s fall

Facebook was ranked 23rd in the Glassdoor 2020 list despite having been named as the number one ‘best place to work’ three times over the past 10 years. In fact, Facebook’s ranking this year marks the company’s lowest position since it first joined the list in 2011.

The social media giant has had an eventful year, from continued repercussions from the Cambridge Analytica scandal to questions about power in big tech and complaints of discrimination from its employees.

Last month, the company was the recipient of an open letter from a group of black, Latinx and Asian employees, in which they detailed their experiences of discriminatory “micro and macro aggressions” at work.

There have also been concerns about working conditions raised by Facebook content moderators working for third-party organisations on behalf of the tech giant.

Is culture the crucial ingredient?

Google secured the top spot on Glassdoor’s list in 2015, and it’s still sitting in first place in the UK’s best workplaces for 2020. However, in the US, it came in at number 11 this year.

Earlier this year, Bloomberg covered the findings of an internal poll at Google. It reported that over the course of a year, the number of employees “inspired by CEO Sundar Pichai’s vision” had fallen. The poll also found that fewer employees placed confidence in the abilities of senior management to successfully lead the company into the future.

This time last year, Google staff around the world also walked out to protest the handling of sexual harassment cases at the company, and organisers of the walkout, some of whom have now left Google, have said that they faced retaliation for their roles in the protest.

Speaking about the annual workplace ranking, Christian Sutherland-Wong, Glassdoor president, chief operating officer and incoming chief executive officer, noted this year’s “shift to a culture-first decade in the workplace”.

Glassdoor’s chief economist, Dr Andrew Chamberlain, added: “Workers are increasingly prioritising culture over cash and research consistently shows that culture is the leading driver of long-term employee satisfaction.

“That said, business leaders have quantifiable proof that culture is one of the smartest investments they could make for the success and longevity of their companies. However, being a culture-first organisation isn’t about expensive perks, but about articulating a clearly stated mission that resonates with employees’ own aspirations and fuels their best performance.”

The fact that Amazon – a company with widely reported claims of a negative workplace culture – has never made it onto the Glassdoor list may reinforce Chamberlain’s words.

Glassdoor’s 2020 list

Making it to first place on Glassdoor’s 2020 list for the US is cloud-computing software company HubSpot.

Citing its Culture Code as a way to boost employee morale and happiness, HubSpot co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah said: “We learned long ago that in order for us to achieve our ambitions we needed to build two products. One for our customers – and the other for our people.

“This second product is what we think of as our culture. And, just like any other product development effort, building a great culture is all about getting candid feedback and iterating.”

Tech firms DocuSign and Ultimate Software came in at numbers three and eight, respectively, while Microsoft was one of the only big tech businesses to move significantly higher – jumping from 34 in last year’s list to number 21.

The annual ranking is based on employee reviews of their employers, rating such aspects as benefits, compensation, senior management and company culture.

Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work in the US in 2020 are:

  1. HubSpot
  2. Bain & Co
  3. DocuSign
  4. In-N-Out Burger
  5. Sammons Financial Group
  6. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  7. Intuitive Surgical
  8. Ultimate Software
  9. VIPKid
  10. Southwest Airlines
Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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