If you’re a fresh college graduate or even a seasoned professional looking to make a jump up the career ladder, then Glassdoor’s yearly Best Places to Work list might hold some pearls of wisdom for you take into your impending job hunt. Every year, the website, through thousands of company reviews from past and present employees, determines the most attractive workplace in the world.
On the list, you’ll find a number of established Silicon Valley behemoths including Google, and Apple, alongside a few less obvious names such as New-York based pharmaceutical Bristol-Myers Squibb and biotechnology multinational, Amgen. However, one familiar name has ruled these rankings for the past three years and counting; and that name is Facebook.
What Makes Facebook so Special
With 2 billion unique visitors per month and an estimated value in excess of $500 billion, Facebook is an enormous enterprise any way you cut it. To keep the machinery and infrastructure for such a massive company running smoothly, the website employs over 18,000 employees at its sprawling, state-of-the-art headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Despite the sheer size of their workforce, the company still manages to average an impressive 4.6 out of 5 rating on jobsites.
Obviously Zuckerberg is doing something right, but what exactly is that something?
The Freedom to Fail
In 2008, a Facebook intern by the name of Ben was trying to work out solution for a bug he’d noticed on Facebook’s interface. As per Facebook policy, software engineers are allowed to live-test their fixes and innovations on a group of 10,000 to 50,000 actual users; the process produces unreplicable real-time results which directly go towards improving software on the website. Unfortunately, in this instance, Ben’s attempts at finding an efficient fix somehow managed to send the entire website crashing down. Zuckerberg’s response was to hire the intern as a full-time employee.
This little anecdote perfectly illustrates the ethos that’s central to Facebook’s enormous growth and continuing innovation over the past decade. Zuckerberg says it best himself,
“I think the strategy of Facebook is to learn as quickly as possible what our community wants us to do, and that encourages a culture that encourages people to try things and test things and fail.”
Despite the size and sensitivity of Facebook’s operations, the management from the top-down has created a culture where employees never feel afraid to fail in the pursuit of creativity and achievement.
Market leading salaries and great benefits make Facebook a highly sought after option for both present and prospective employees. Amongst the perks provided to workers are:
- 4 months of maternity and paternity leave, and a $4000 bonus for new parents
- An on-site bike repair shop
- A wellness program that finances gym memberships and other healthy activities
- 3 weeks paid vacation
- A complete video game arcade
- Free daily catered meals and snacks
- An on-site barbershop
- On-site health and dental care
- Valet parking
- On-site dry cleaning services
- An average salary of $285,000 an year (interns are reported to make an estimated $7,080 a month)
Even in an industry renowned for its extravagant benefits, Facebook leads the pack. So, is it really any surprise that everyone seems to want to keep working there?
Transparency from the Very Top
While Facebook might have a long history of secrecy and shady maneuvering as far as its actual business goes, the view from inside the company couldn’t be any more different. Senior managers, including Zuckerberg himself host weekly Q & A’s in which employees are encouraged to participate and provide feedback. Any concerns expressed are handled swiftly and amicably. In addition, these sessions often provide a platform for Zuckerberg to make announcements about new features and products coming to Facebook in the following months.
According to employees, the instant feedback and responsiveness from the top down is used to encourage a feeling of connectedness and community within the workforce. By all accounts, it seems to be working.
Work That Matters
That emphasis on connectedness carries over to the actual work performed by engineers and designers at Facebook. According to Zuckerberg, his biggest fear isn’t that Facebook will fail; it’s that the website won’t make full use of its lofty position to make the biggest world impact possible.
It’s a driving vision that seems to be well reflected amongst the workforce at the company. According to a survey conducted by Payscale, 81% of employees at Facebook think that their work makes the world a better place.
When employees enter the Menlo Park headquarters, they’re met by a large slogan, scribbled across the walls. It reads “The journey is 1% complete”. It’s a message that shows just how far Zuckerberg still thinks Facebook has to grow.
Better Hiring and Working Practices
While the average interview at Google can take up to 6 weeks, new Facebook recruits can find themselves hired in about a quarter of the time. Despite the fact that both companies get a similar quality of applicants, ex-Google employees consistently report being shunted into lower level positions where they’re not allowed to make full use of their skills and competencies.
In comparison, Facebook employs far less workers, in much smaller teams. Where Google employees may feel like simple cogs in a machine, every Facebook employee seems to feel that they’re actually capable of making a lasting impact on the company at large.
While Google is far more traditional in its organizational structure, with managers receiving far more freedom to make decision, Facebook employs a much more equal working environment where employees are prized for their skills and contribution rather than their position.
Most importantly, employees at Facebook feel that they have room to advance further. In Glassdoor reviews workers report that they’re more than happy with the opportunities for career advancement afforded to them at the firm.
by Bobby J Davidson
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