A tactic for layoffs? | TikTok encourages bosses to give out lower employee review scores

TikTok encourages bosses to give out lower employee review scores

TikTok has told its managers to purposefully assign lower marks in performance reviews to its staff, a recent article from The Wall Street Journal reported.

The short-clip app said the move was intended to enforce a more fair and balanced performance distribution across its workforce.

Yet many fear this could be an early sign of potential layoffs to come, as TikTok may be lowering its performance threshold to justify sacking some of its 130,000-employee strong workforce.

According to the article, managers were told by the business’ managing teams and HR in the US, Singapore and China to assign more performance assessments towards the lower end of its bell-curve rating system.

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TikTok’s parent brand ByteDance - a privately owned Chinese company - is also tightening its performance review strategy at sister-company and workplace communication app, Lark.

Like many other companies, TikTok has faced stifled business growth in the face of economic strain, with the firm reporting lower growth than normal. ByteDance is now valued at $223.5billion (£184.3billion), down from 26% from when it was previously valued at $300billion (£247.4billion).

The tech giant also made headlines after mandating its US employees use an internal app called ‘MyRTO’ to track office attendance and ensure staff are coming into the office three days a week.

Staff at TikTok were reportedly “taken aback” by the draconian measures to use a dedicated app to track how much time they’re at their desk, the New York times reported.

Nudging out workers

Employers have long tried to find ways to nudge out employees who they feel are underperforming or not the right fit for their firm. The situation at TikTok may indicate that we are likely to see more cases like this, as companies experience more pressure to streamline their workforce in the face of economic pressures.

However, TikTok would be wise to learn from fellow tech giants and their series of mass layoffs. Meta famously gave out low staff reviews before announcing it would be sacking some of its workforce.

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Whereas Amazon created a culture of anxiety after the company announced it would be slashing 18,000 jobs earlier in the year – this even led many employees to post they are open to work on LinkedIn whilst still working for the firm.

Ultimately, if staff start to suspect their job could be on the line, this can have a myriad of negative consequences such as decreased motivation, poor wellbeing, lower levels of productivity, and could be worse for the firm’s culture in the long term. Therefore, employers must tread carefully when announcing these types of strategies.



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