SEC drama sees Tesla employee sentiment skidding; hiring still accelerating

1 week ago by James Mattone in Facts, Trends

Tesla ($NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk tangled with the United States Securities Exchange Commission these past few weeks, paying a $20 million fine and stepping down as the company's chairman in a settlement that avoids a lengthy lawsuit over his infamous "funding secured" Tweet. Days after the deal, he went back to Twitter to call the SEC "Shortseller Enrichment Commission."

Musk's recent run-in with the SEC follows another string of bad news over the past five months: several senior employees left the company, suppliers are worried that they won't be paid by Tesla and called the company a "financial risk," the Model 3's production fell short of estimates and was followed by troubles with distribution, there were workplace investigations, and, among other, more personal issues, there is a lawsuit about Musk calling a British diver a pedophile.

While Musk's status in the legal doghouse is yet to be seen, it appears that employees at Tesla are continuing to lose faith in their CEO and the company's future at large.

Continuing with a trend seen earlier this year, anonymous ratings by Tesla employees on company-rating website Glassdoor are still dropping as Musk remains an outspoken chief executive. 

The average employee rating of Elon Musk has hit an all-time low as of today, as Musk currently sits with a 79% approval rating.

To Musk's credit, the average Glassdoor CEO rating is 69% approval, a full ten points lower of his current standing. But given that he was at 89% around this time last fall, a full 10 percentage point drop in one year shows some signs for concern.

Since highs of 60% in March, Tesla employee's business outlook — a gauge for the state that employees think the company will be in six months from today — has slid to 52%. Should it dip below 50%, it would be a sign that more employees believe the company will be in a worse situation than they are in currently.

Tesla hiring continues to rise four months after layoffs

Although employee sentiment is dropping, Tesla is still hiring at a healthy level months after June layoffs cut 9 percent of the company's workers.

As of October 9, there are 2,465 open positions at Tesla. That's an increase of 50% —826 jobs — since Tesla's lowest hiring point during its layoff period. The most common listings are for salespeople, or what Tesla calls "Customer Experience Specialists."

Title Title (Count)
Customer Experience Specialist 262
Owner Advisor 112
Delivery Experience Specialist 93
Vehicle Prep Specialist 82
Field Service Associate 81
Field Service Crew Lead 78
Lead Field Service Associate 74
Service Advisor 48
Energy Advisor 46
Technician / KFZ-Mechatroniker (m_w) 46

Last month, we found that Tesla was on a hiring spree for such people, and now it seems they have not slowed down. On August 29, Tesla was hiring 129 Customer Experience Specialists, 49 Vehicle Prep Specialists, 45 Delivery Experience Specialists and 42 Owner Advisors.

Nearly all of those positions have seen a doubling of listings from then until today, indicating that the company is continuing to focus on the last step of its production timeline for the Model 3: selling it.

Not only are sales jobs increasing, but the number of jobs at its Tesla Factory in Freemont is slowly beginning to rise. This is the factory that produced the Model 3s (and had issues with a production shortage), and also closed out plenty of openings in June during the layoff period.

Although it may not seem like much, this small increase may signal a renewal in production — either for more Model 3s or for the Tesla Semi truck that's supposed to be in production by 2019 — in the near future.

James Mattone

James is a recent Boston University graduate who calls the world of esports and video games his home. As a young journalist, he has already covered two E3 expos a...

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