Facebook to link employee bonuses to progress on social issues

New bonus criteria include ‘building new experiences that . . . improve people’s lives’

Facebook beat forecasts with fourth-quarter results last week. Photograph: PA Wire

Facebook beat forecasts with fourth-quarter results last week. Photograph: PA Wire

 

Facebook has said it will link its employee bonuses to criteria such as “making progress on the major social issues” the social network faces, marking a move away from its historic focus on growth.

The social media company said on Tuesday that it had changed its bonus criteria for the first half of 2019. Previously, Facebook judged employees on how their performance contributed to growing the company’s user base and revenues, and making savings through efficiency, among other factors.

Instead, employees will now be rewarded based on new goals that chief executive Mark Zuckerberg set out in the group’s earnings call last week. These include tackling social issues faced by the company, such as the spread of fake news and misinformation, as well as data privacy and security.

The other criteria were “building new experiences that . . . improve people’s lives”, better supporting small businesses through the platform and communicating “more transparently” about the business, it said.

It is unclear how exactly the company will monitor and measure employees against these criteria, and what precise metrics they will use.

The news, which was announced at an internal employee meeting, marks the first effort by Facebook to shake up the way it incentivises its workers. It comes as critics have partly blamed the company’s “growth-at-all costs” mentality in its earlier years for its more recent woes, including the Cambridge Analytica data scandal in 2018.

Sinking morale

It also comes amid reports of sinking employee morale and as the pace of Facebook’s annual revenue growth has slowed in the past two years.

“Over the past two years, we’ve fundamentally changed how we run Facebook. This particular change is designed to ensure that we are incentivising people to keep making progress on the major social issues facing the internet and our company,” Facebook said on Tuesday in a statement.

Despite a slowing overall pace of growth, Facebook beat forecasts for fourth-quarter revenues and earnings last week, allaying investor fears that recent controversies had driven away swaths of users and spooked advertisers. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019