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Amid a hiring boom, Twitter and Silicon Valley face corporate culture challenges

The news: Twitter is among the many Big Tech players being challenged by shifts in workplace culture. The social platform’s chief design officer, Dantley Davis, has been central to one such shift, but reactions to his efforts have been mixed, per The New York Times.

More on this:

  • In 2019, Twitter had a reputation as a highly collaborative place to work, but Davis deemed it too nice and noticed that employees would avoid critiquing each other.
  • Davis was brought in to kickstart product innovation at the then 13-year-old social media company, but his blunt and persistent manner of criticism was not exactly welcomed by employees.
  • All the while, Twitter has attempted to attract workers with the campaign #LoveWhereYouWork, which attempts to highlight its more relaxed work atmosphere (by Silicon Valley standards).
  • Results are mixed: According to Glassdoor reviews, culture has indeed shifted, but employee dissatisfaction rose as well. The company pushed back against the notion that all dissatisfaction is bad: “This is actually a Twitter culture change that we’ve been trying to drive,” Jennifer Christie, Twitter’s chief human resources officer, told The New York Times.

Twitter isn’t the only tech firm facing cultural shifts:

  • In late April, work collaboration platform Basecamp published a blog post announcing that it would cut certain benefits, which caused an employee exodus.
  • Google fired employees who protested the company’s decision to work with certain government agencies. It is now facing a trial over those terminations, which allegedly violated labor law.
  • In September 2020, Coinbase banned political talk at work, offering severance to employees who were against the new policy.
  • In June, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced an end to full-time remote work. In response, employees circulated results from an internal survey that suggested he was out of step with their values. Nearly 90% of the 1,749 respondents indicated they “strongly agree” with the statement “Location-flexible working options are a very important issue to me.”

Why it’s worth watching:

  • It’s noteworthy that some of these big tech companies are experiencing cultural rifts in the workplace, especially during a peculiar moment in time when unemployment remains high, but competition for knowledge workers is tight.
  • Companies need to walk the tightrope of achieving positive employer branding while still developing the cohesive culture they believe will get them to the next level.