Some TikTok employees in the US are complaining about sleep deprivation exacerbated by frequent work over the weekends and mandatory meetings with Chinese colleagues.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, a strict management style and internal work culture that conflicts with TikTok’s thriving public image has sustained the platform’s success.
Employees, many of whom have worked at other major tech companies, say TikTok emphasizes productivity and confidentiality to an unusual degree.
Some former U.S. employees said they worked an average of 85 hours a week during their time at TikTok headquarters in Los Angeles and had to take extra time to complete their regular work.
Another employee said he persuaded his boss to fire him from continuing to work all night only after he submitted medical lab results showing a potentially life-threatening condition.
Previous employees described weight fluctuations, stress, or emotional deterioration so severe that they sought treatment.
One of them said she felt such pressure to be present during successive meetings in Tik Tok that she was unable to use a hygienic pillow during her period.
Others list challenges, including interpreting internal documents written in Chinese and translated using software that does not always capture the finer details.
And the famous Tik Tok app is owned by ByteDance, which is headquartered in the Chinese capital, Beijing. The app recorded the highest number of downloads during the first quarter of 2022, according to analytical firm Sensor Tower.
In contrast, TikTok said it made a series of adjustments to its practices and work culture to achieve its goal of “building and strengthening an empowered team to support our growing global community.”
“We encourage a culture of transparency and are committed to building the right business and platform that allows our community and our employees to thrive,” he added in a written statement.
“The opposite of what the platform represents”
Long working hours and tight deadlines are nothing new in fast-growing tech companies like Tik Tok, and sleep disruption is not a rare problem for employees of foreign companies, according to the newspaper.
But TikTok’s workforce in the United States embodies such pressures on an unusual scale, said many people who have worked there and elsewhere in the tech space.
The company practices secrecy over a lot of information and organizational charts, especially for lower ranking employees.
Some former employees said that for months, members of the human resources and finance teams at the New York office were unaware that there were separate teams performing the same tasks in California.
Babel Martinez, who was a global account manager for TikTok advertising sales until February, said TikTok presentations often included vague or missing numbers, and his managers told him not to share certain data with employees. lower level.
He continued: “The signal I received was: ‘We do not trust you. There was a level of secrecy at TikTok that was very different from the other tech companies he worked for.
Many TikTok employees tolerate long working hours and lack of work-life limits because they may be compensated in the form of shares if the parent company goes public.
“We want to be on board this rocket car,” Martinez said.
He noted that he left the company after refusing to work all weekend, despite submitting his project on schedule, to which the response he received from a manager was: “This is not the way we do business here. “.
ByteDance suspended its plans to go public about a year ago when Chinese regulators asked it to focus on data security.
At a meeting in April 2021, Dylan Jonke, who has worked in application brand partnerships for more than two years, asked the U.S. chief of human resources why senior executives had avoided questions about compensation for 50 weeks in a row.
Junki said that if TikTok does not plan to provide answers to such questions, it should say so instead of dismissing them.
Shortly afterwards, senior executives emailed Junki about his conduct and HR launched an investigation and discussed whether TikTok could dismiss Junki, according to a person familiar with the discussions, before the man resigned two months later.
In the statement, TikTok did not comment on specific employee stories, including those of Junki.
Tik Tok describes itself as home to “fun, entertaining, diverse and unexpected experiences”.
In a note posted inside after his departure, Junki said that “the way TikTok employees are treated is exactly the opposite of what the platform represents.”