You better be happy. Or at least look like it. If you just signed up or you’re already in companies like Facebook, the best thing you can do, if you do not want to lose your job, is to show a satisfactory image in front of your bosses. Otherwise, you can end up on the street. The empire of these technological giants in the world economy is evident. In a corporate culture in which the customer is always at the center, the GAFAM (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft) have unseated in the last ten years all large companies, to the point of accumulating a huge value, that only counting the three most powerful (Apple, Google and Amazon) reaches 470,750 million dollars (410,033 million euros), according to the latest ranking ‘Best Global Brands’, conducted by the consultancy Interbrand. In this way, they concentrate a little more than 20% of all the added value of the hundred brands that follow them in the classification.
But such figures are not achieved overnight. Not much less at zero cost. Along the way there are a lot of work practices whose ethics and morals are in question. The monitoring and exhaustive control of all production processes lead to very questionable conditions. Practices that have led to strikes and protests, as one of the most recent, convened at the logistics center that Amazon has in San Fernando de Henares, whose follow-up was massive: 98% of the workforce, according to union representatives. What happens behind the walls that flank these warehouses?
There should not be this obsession to pretend that I love my work, because it’s not like that
“Cult to the company”. These are the four most repeated words among Facebook workers when describing their employment. Several media, such as the television network ‘CNBC’ or the digital newspaper ‘Business Insider’, have published several articles to give voice to employees and expose the conflicting climate that is experienced inside their offices. And it’s not reassuring. Apart from having to place the company at the center of their lives by force, they should be cordial both with their bosses and with their colleagues if they want to prosper and not go to the streets in brief. It is not a simple control measure intended to measure and increase performance, but is 100% quantifiable. From time to time, the employees of the headquarters of Facebook in Menlo Park are obliged to undergo a review process in which the comments of the workers are compiled in relation to the degree of satisfaction they have not only with their employment, but also with your colleagues. And poor who is in the lower area of the table.
“It seems like a popularity contest in which the main objective is to win over people” an employee tells CNBC. “There should not be this obsession to pretend that I love my work, because it is not,” says another member of the staff. “The pressure for us to act as if everything was fine and we would love to work here is so big that it hurts. Even if you feel devastated, you need to act as if you love this place. ” Just a few months ago Facebook headed the ‘Glassdoor’ list as the best place to work. But in the last year, and perhaps also in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandals or the misuse of private data of its users, it has fallen to seventh place. Not to mention its fall in the stock market, estimated at losses of more than 252,000 million dollars in its market capital.
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The curve of vitality
These labor practices adopted by the technological giants are not new. In the 1980s, a man named Jack Welch introduced into his company what is known as the “vitality curve”, a method of personnel management that evaluates employees to fit into a ranking, divided into performance plots. . In this way, the top 20%, the “top performers”, receive the most juicy promotions and bonuses; the next 20%, the “good performers”, receive a lower bonus but do not have the insured promotion; further down are “the mediocre”, who are hardly taken into account and encompass 40%; in the last 20% there are workers whose performance is considered “poor”, that is, if they do not improve before the next evaluation, they already know that their future is out of work.
Companies now have multiple digital control tools to monitor their employees in real time
Welch at that time was one of the most reputable executives in the United States. The CEO of General Electric completely restructured the company with a strategy that achieved five times its total turnover. “This method is the kindest way to manage a template,” he argued in an article published in The Wall Street Journal. “People who give less are given the opportunity to improve, and if they do not get it in a year, they are thrown out.” Obviously, at the current level the time between evaluation and evaluation is not so long. Right now big companies are testing formulas that increasingly streamline processes from digital measurement tools that in real time and automatically monitor all movements of workers, as well as the level of compliance of strategies and objectives to short and long term.
A real disaster
One of the companies that listened carefully to Welch’s proposals was Microsoft. It was 2011 and the company was headed by Steve Ballmer, who sent an email to all his employees to announce the reforms in Human Resources. Two years later he resigned from his post, forced by the bad results and the disastrous impact that his management had led to the promising firm to ruin. “All the employees and former employees of Microsoft that I interviewed cited ‘the curve of vitality’ as a very destructive process that took ahead to a countless number of workers”, afrimaba in his day Kurt Eichenwald, journalist of ‘Vanity Fair’ , in a complete report on the corporate culture of the company. “The strict and ruthless evaluation system caused employees to be more concerned with appearing at the top of the list than by providing real value to the company.”
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More than a store, a church
The case of Apple is undoubtedly the most peculiar. First, for his untouchable reputation; we only need to keep an eye on the multiple audiovisual announcements of their products to give the Cupertino people an aura of divinity, with a high messianic complex, whose center and hopes in humanity reside in technology. It is enough to pass in front of one of its stores located in the center of large cities such as Barcelona or Madrid to appreciate that more than shops are diaphanous churches in which each penitent stands up to type on one of the screens of their products.
I was hospitalized with a virus and they sent me an email to ask me for a presentation they needed “urgently”
To their parishioners or, in this case altar servers, a total and absolute confidentiality is demanded in their day to day. Those who sin of having too long a tongue are kindly invited to leave the company. In addition, they are required to use code names to designate prototypes that only they know. On the other hand, their workers have to deal with the high pressure not only of their middle managers, but of the top executives. It is not a mystery that Tim Cook, CEO of the firm, harasses from five o’clock in the morning to post to each of his employees, from the most historic to the junior grantee who has just entered.
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Perfectionism is not a goal, but a requirement: “Working for Apple is similar to what it was like to fly in a Boieng during World War 2. Everything has to work 100%, including you, because it’s the only thing that will guarantee a better product, “says Austin Meyer, creator of the X-Plane flight simulator, in ‘Business Insider’. “Nothing less than 100% will be acceptable.” Others, like Ben Farrell, an employee of the technological multinational, did not have the opportunity to explain themselves: “I had contracted a virus and was hospitalized, but instead of receiving support, they sent me an email to the hospital with a presentation that They needed me ‘urgently.’ Even on the morning of my wedding I was receiving calls from the office and sending reports. ”
‘Greens’ and ‘Blues’
“Are you happy at work? How do you value your colleagues? When you talk to your family or friends, how proud are you to say that you work at Amazon? ” These are some of the questions that the employees of the firm have to see each morning. Once inside the warehouse, a pistol marks the pace at which they have to take orders, recording their productivity. This gun has a timer with a countdown that marks the time in which you have to pick up the package to take it to the other end of the hangar. Another peculiarity is that there are two types of employees: fixed and temporary. The first ones are distinguished with the blue color and the second ones with the green, in such a way that the natural aspiration of the ‘greens’, will always be to become someday ‘blues’. “We walk many kilometers a day in the warehouse and the fear of getting sick and not renewing us slows down” commented a worker to this newspaper in a report.
Also published on Medium.