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Tech’s Culture Problem Will Make You Question the Value of a 6-Figure Salary

Tech jobs famously offer impressive paychecks, especially at top employers like Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc. But a spate of stories in recent years has drawn attention to one downside of working on tomorrow’s hot new app or emerging utility: corporate cultures that sometimes prize productivity to the point of overwork and constant stress.
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PayScale’s recent report, Tech Companies Compared, examines salaries, tenure and corporate culture at top tech companies. Bottom line: these jobs might pay a lot, but they also ask a lot of the folks who hold them. And some of the cultural issues facing tech workers are more than just the understandable pressure of innovating under a deadline.

PayScale examined 52 top employers in the tech space, analyzing data from our user survey to determine which companies’ employees had the highest employer satisfaction, job stress and job meaning. We also looked at employee tenure and experience, intent to leave in the next six months and median early- and mid-career pay.

When is a $100k+ salary not worth it? When it comes with overwork and job stress.Click To Tweet

A Stressful Sector

Job stress was fairly high at many employers on our list. Ten companies had ratings of 65 percent or higher, meaning that 65 percent of employees rated their job as highly stressful.

High stress didn’t necessarily correlate with high pay, either: the most stressful employer on our list was SpaceX (86 percent), which is also lowest paid employer for mid-career workers (median salary: $80,800). On the other hand, SpaceX employees do report high levels of employer satisfaction (65 percent) and a sense that their work is meaningful (90 percent).

Job Tenure — and Which Workers Are About to Take a Hike

If you’re someone who likes to stay at one employer for a long time, tech might not be the place for you. For example, 12 companies on our list have an average employee tenure of one year, and 33 companies — more than half! — have an average employee tenure of two years or less.

High pay and positive employee sentiment were no guarantee of worker loyalty. Twitter, which offers median mid-career pay of $157,000 and an 81 percent “high job meaning” rating from workers, also has the second-highest number of workers (70 percent) who say they plan to leave in the near future.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Tech Has an Inclusion Problem

PayScale’s report did not look specifically at the problem of sexism and lack of diversity in tech, but it’s a known issue — and one that contributes to worker stress and low tenure in the industry.

One in 10 women in tech reports experiencing sexual harassment at work, according to a study from the Kapor Center for Social Impact and Harris Poll, which also found that 1 in 4 people of color faced stereotyping in the industry.

Recently, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick left his post in the wake of an investigation into the company’s alleged culture of harassment, discrimination and retaliation. But the problem is bigger than one employer. As of 2015, only 11 percent of Silicon Valley executives were women. Until that changes, it will be hard for women to get a fair shake in the industry.

Tell Us What You Think

Employees at top tech firms, we want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts on the industry’s reputation for tough corporate cultures. Comment or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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