Meta Tightens Belt Around Staff Bonuses

Photo credit: Nokia621/WikiMedia Commons

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

Meta staff left standing after a brutal round of layoffs are experiencing whatever feels like the opposite of survivor’s guilt.

The company formerly known as Facebook sent a memo to managers on Monday telling them it’s cutting bonus payouts from 85% to 65% for employees who fit into the “met most expectations” bracket at their annual 2023 review, The Wall Street Journal reported. This is the latest chapter in Mark Zuckerberg’s quest for efficiency. The Meta CEO told staff in July 2022 that he would be “turning up the heat a little bit.” We shiver to think what turning up the heat a lot would look like.

Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency

Meta was the first of the Big Four tech companies to start slashing staff and was a harbinger of a wider trend. With macroeconomics battering every industry, the previously abundant tech job market began to wither, and in February, Zuckerberg declared 2023 to be Meta’s “Year of Efficiency.” So far, that has involved 21,000 job cuts plus the loss of perks including free laundry, which has nothing to do with whistleblowers airing all of Meta’s dirty laundry. Monday’s memo to managers said cutting bonuses was part of a “continued focus on maintaining a high-performance culture,” which fits into Zuckerberg’s new cutthroat approach to efficiency. But to employees, it might seem like an ever-so-slight U-turn.

As well as cutting some bonuses, the memo said employees will now have to undergo evaluations twice a year, rather than once. One former Meta employee told The Daily Upside that pre-pandemic, twice-annual reviews were the norm, but the company changed to once-a-year reviews in the name of… wait for it… efficiency:

  • “Going from two performance cycles a year to one was sold to us as an efficiency improvement.” the former Meta employee told The Daily Upside. “So people accepted it even though it meant there were fewer opportunities to receive a promotion.“
  • They added that the review process involved a lot of writing, including reviewing themselves, their manager, and 5 to 10 colleagues. “We’re talking 1,000-1,500 words for my review and my manager’s, plus 400 words for each colleague,” the former employee explained. Meta might want to rethink the James Joyce school of staff evaluation if efficiency really is its new watchword.

We Not So Happy Few: Meta staff aren’t the only tech workers whose pay packets are shrinking. Amazon has cut more jobs than any tech giant thus far, and workers that remain are in danger of having their golden handcuffs tarnished as significant chunks of their salaries are tied up in the company’s stock, a not uncommon practice in tech. The WSJ reported last month that some Amazon employees’ salaries could end up 50% lower than projected for 2023.