Buzzfeed employee morale & CEO sink to lowest levels yet, company shrinks on LinkedIn
Like any person or business, Buzzfeed ($BUZZFEED) has good years and bad years. So far, 2019 has been a bad year for the still-young media company that grew into a digital publishing giant only to recently realize that it may have become too big and diverse for its own good. In January, the company laid off 15% of its workforce in a move that is still echoing in a new media world that has yet to truly figure out the two most important things in business: profit and scale.
As CEO Jonah Peretti and company seek out a future that includes those two things, employees at Buzzfeed are growing sour on what was once considered one of the best companies to work for, according to data that we track via Glassdoor.
“You’re going to see some really strong digital media companies that survive all this turbulence and challenges, and they’re gonna be better companies because they made hard decisions,” Peretti told David Uberti of Columbia Journalism Review. Turbulence and challenges are expected in one's professional life, but when the ride gets too bumpy, passengers want off. According to the data you'll see below, some of Peretti's employees want off.
In November 2017, Buzzfeed's overall rating was an above-average 3.7 (of 5). It was at a still-decent 3.4 at the end of 2018, but has seen a drop to just 3.1 in the past week.
Peretti once enjoyed an excellent 82% approval rating. His rating remained above average — 76% — in the new year. But when the layoffs hit and negative press about how the layoffs were handled made its way around social media, his rating dropped precipitously. He's now at 67%, a 9-point drop since the new year.
If one metric operates as a metaphor for passengers wanting off the crazy train, it would be Glassdoor's "Business Outlook" rating, which asks reviewers to consider whether or not they believe the company will be in a better place in six months. At one time, Buzzfeed employees gave their company a 64% Business Outlook rating. Since the new year, that rating has dropped to just 35%. That means that only 35% of respondents believe that Buzzfeed will be in a better place in six months.
only 35% of respondents believe that Buzzfeed will be in a better place in six months
Given the sagging CEO and Business Outlook ratings, it comes as little surprise that Buzzfeed's "Recommend" rating is also hurting. Currently at just 35%, at one point in 2017, 64% of respondents recommend Buzzfeed as a good place to work.
Culture & Values
When Buzzfeed laid off 15% of its staff, it made the unpopular — and unkind — decision to not pay laid-off staffers for their accrued paid-time off days. Peretti stood behind the decision, calling it "fair". He's also been a vocal critic of unionization. The company eventually changed course and said it would pay laid-off employees' their PTO, but the damage had been done. Along with these public blunders, employees now give Buzzfeed a "Culture & Values" rating of 3.4 of 5, down from 3.8 in early 2019.
The number of Buzzfeed workplace reviews has seen a slight uptick in the new year. This can happen during times of change such as layoffs and management shuffles, but it's important for the sake of transparency to show how the data can affected by response bias. In this case, we are potentially looking at Glassdoor reviews from disgruntled ex-employees.
LinkedIn Employee Count Shrinkage
For final context, a look at Buzzfeed's employee count graph via LinkedIn data is telling. For the first time in years, Buzzfeed is seeing its first period of shrinkage when it comes to LinkedIn users who list the company as their employer. Since 2016, the company was on a tear, virtually doubling its size in terms of number of employees. As of late, however, employee count fell off a bit of a curb.