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What happens when Facebook’s employees no longer work for “Facebook”?

Facebook Chairman and CEO Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington
Reuters/Erin Scott
Facebook's workers are in a limbo.
  • Ananya Bhattacharya
By Ananya Bhattacharya

Tech reporter

Published Last updated on

Whether it turns out to be a smart rebranding effort or a cumbersome marketing ploy, one thing is almost certain: Facebook changing its name to Meta will spark an identity crisis for its workforce.

For years, Facebook has been a hot favorite among job seekers. The tech giant offers a range of products to billions of people across the world, and provides opportunities in advanced tech with its various augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) products. Facebook is apparently filled with “the smartest people,” according to Glassdoor reviews.

The name change will strip many people of their coveted “I-work-at-Facebook” tag. Facebook must make sure current and prospective employees don’t feel stripped off their sense of security and loyalty to the firm.Whistleblower Frances Haugen’s ongoing exposé highlights the importance of happy staff, among other things.

“Much like your customer base, you need to make your employees advocates and evangelists for the messaging behind the change. So buy-in is a must,” says Chris Tompkins, the CEO and founder of digital marketing firm The Go! Agency.

Facebook’s work environment needs rescuing

A job at the company comes with several perks, from free meals and transportation allowance to comprehensive healthcare and ample parental leave. But these surface-level benefits won’t be enough to keep employees tethered, HR experts say. After all, most of Silicon Valley now offers similar comforts, making Facebook a more dispensable employer than it was, say, a decade ago.

To keep a hold of existing workers, Facebook has to take them along for this rebranding ride.

“There should be internal announcements and discussions that keep employees in the loop and make them feel invested in an exciting new chapter, rather than as the last to get the unfortunate news,” says Baruch Labunski, CEO and co-founder of marketing services firm Rank Secure.

This is especially crucial now that Haugen’s documents have highlighted how Facebook’s internal fabric is fraying. Several employees have raised questions about the company prioritizing profits over people. Many feel the company doesn’t listen to them. And for a few years now, young graduates have said they don’t even aspire to work at Facebook citing “privacy stuff, fake news, personal data, all of it.”

If current staff and jobseekers see no other changes to go with the rechristening, they’ll be more convinced it’s all for optics.

“Facebook is having massive HR issues, and this will amplify them. People are looking for systemic change, not a superficial band-aid,” says Adam Hanft, a global brand strategist and a strategic adviser to Israel’s largest internet company, Conduit. “This will actually make things worse.”

Facebook’s US employees may be wary about Europe

Last week, Facebook said it was creating 10,000 new jobs in the European Union over the next five years, as it builds its metaverse—a virtual world for people to work and socialize in. The company is focusing on the region given its “large consumer market, first class universities and, crucially, top-quality talent,” Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs, and Javier Olivan, vice president of central products, wrote in an Oct. 17 blog post.

While it’s good news for jobseekers in the EU, “that doesn’t necessarily mean folks in the US will keep their jobs,” says Labunski. “As priorities shift, so do employment decisions.” Facebook’s US employees will have to be handled with kid gloves.

Already, the US workforce has been concerned about immigrants taking their jobs. Just earlier this month, Facebook settled claims of refusing to hire US talent for positions it set aside for temporary visa-holders, agreeing to pay a $4.75 million civil penalty, and make available up to $9.5 million to pay eligible plaintiffs.

One thing that’s perhaps reassuring is that the biggest jobs are still in the US. Not only is Zuckerberg based in Palo Alto, but so is Andrew Bosworth—Zuckerberg’s go-to fix-it guy who’s been at Facebook since 2006, and was most recently the head of AR and VR before being being promoted to chief technology officer. But then again, the top brass is only a handful of people at the 60,000-people company.

This piece has been updated.

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