TikTok is the most popular app in China and Asia. The platform, like others such as YouTube, has been criticized for its work culture which includes a lot of secrecy, pressure and anxiety. It’s likely that future generations will have to be more mindful about how companies are handling their mental well-being.

Working at TikTok can be a difficult and stressful experience. The company thrives on secrecy, with employees often not knowing what their coworkers are doing. This leads to an atmosphere of constant pressure and anxiety. Read more in detail here: working at tiktok reviews.

TikTok’s Work Culture: Anxiety, Secrecy and Relentless Pressure

TikTok promotes itself as the happiest place on the internet, with an almost endless supply of goof-offs, dance-offs, and good-natured pranks.

Employees at its U.S. locations believe that a stringent management style and demanding internal culture fuel the company’s success, despite its upbeat public image.

Employees, many of whom have worked for other large software firms, say TikTok places a premium on efficiency and confidentiality that is unheard of in the sector.

As TikTok’s meteoric rise continues, the app’s U.S. headquarters, which are owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd, are becoming more tense. According to Sensor Tower, TikTok, which was founded only six years ago, has the most downloads of any app in the first quarter of 2022.

As of last summer, TikTok employed roughly 1,500 workers in the United States. Much of their work is adapting Chinese items for an American audience and tapping into the lucrative American advertising industry. TikTok intends to hire 10,000 people in the United States, making it one of the most daring initiatives in integrating the work cultures of the world’s two digital heavyweights.

Some staff in Los Angeles, TikTok’s U.S. headquarters, complain of sleep loss compounded by weekend work and required meetings with colleagues on the other side of the world.

During their tenure at TikTok, some former U.S. workers stated they averaged 85 hours of meetings per week and had to carve out extra time to do their job. Another said that only after sharing medical test results suggesting a possibly life-threatening disease did he convince his supervisor to spare him from working back-to-back all-nighters.

Former workers claimed dramatic weight fluctuations, stress, and mental lows that prompted them to seek treatment. One woman claimed she bled through her trousers rather than excuse herself to buy a tampon because she felt pressured to be there for back-to-back meetings at TikTok.

TikTok borrows some of its approach from Amazon.com Inc., which is also known for its demanding work culture. TikTok executives regularly tell employees “It’s always day one,” repeating a line popularized by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to encourage innovation and avoid complacency. Other maxims, such as “Be candid & clear,” are splashed across TikTok office walls, and employees are judged in part based on their adherence to the concepts.

To achieve its objective of “creating and developing a staff that is empowered to assist our expanding global audience,” TikTok said it has implemented a number of changes to its processes and work culture. “We foster a culture of openness and criticism, and are dedicated to establishing an egalitarian platform and company that enables both our community and our workers to succeed,” it said in a written statement.


Los Angeles is the headquarters of TikTok in the United States.

Jessica Pons, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal

Long hours and tight deadlines aren’t uncommon in fast-growing software companies like these, and a skewered sleep cycle isn’t uncommon among foreign staff. However, numerous individuals who have worked at TikTok and elsewhere in tech say that the company’s US staff exemplifies such strains to an exceptional degree.

Former workers have flocked to social media platforms like YouTube and Medium to share their stories of working at TikTok’s US headquarters. Some people experience being in an intensive environment as giving them an emotional high. Many others mention difficulties such as comprehending internal papers written in Chinese and translating them using software that does not always catch details.

In a Medium post, Melody Chu, a former senior product manager who worked on helping creators make money from their content, wrote, “Working at TikTok stretched me in more ways than I could count, and taught me more about product strategy, execution, and cross-cultural nuances than I could have initially imagined.” Despite this, Ms. Chu, who has worked for Facebook, Roblox, and Nextdoor, departed TikTok in November.

They sought marital counseling since she spent so many dinnertimes on calls with colleagues in China rather than with her husband. She said that her weight had decreased dramatically and that she was having problems sleeping. TikTok took precedence over all other hobbies, including time with her parents and her own mental health.

“I would never have accepted the job at TikTok if I had known it would cost me this much,” she wrote in June 2020. She stated that she didn’t regret joining since she showed to herself that she had what it takes to succeed by doing so. Ms. Chu did not reply to an interview request.


Pabel Martinez, a former TikTok employee, claimed he was warned not to disclose some information with lower-level staff. “The indication I got was, ‘We don’t trust you,’” he said.

The Wall Street Journal/Elias Williams photo

Because of the possibility of a payout if TikTok’s parent business goes public, many staff put up with the long hours and lack of work-life balance. “You want to be on that rocket ship,” said Pabel Martinez, who worked at TikTok until February as a global account director for ad sales.

Mr. Martinez claims he resigned because he objected to having to work all weekend despite the fact that his project was on track, and a management told him, “That’s not how we do business here.”

When Chinese authorities advised ByteDance to concentrate on data security instead of going public a year ago, the company put its plans to go public on hold.

According to a source acquainted with TikTok’s business operations, revenue hit $4 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $12 billion this year. In comparison, it took Facebook, now known as Meta Platforms Inc., ten years to earn $12 billion.

According to former employees, TikTok regularly has many teams working on the same project, competing them against one another to see who can accomplish it first. Although the strategy is intended to encourage staff to work as quickly as possible, several former employees claimed it created fear over falling behind colleagues or dissatisfaction when their assignments were never completed.

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Shou Zi Chew, a Singaporean, took over as TikTok’s CEO last year, replacing Vanessa Pappas, a temporary CEO located in Los Angeles. Employees in the United States claim the move solidified TikTok’s position in the East. Kevin Mayer, an American, was TikTok’s CEO in early 2020 but departed after roughly three months, just as the Trump government was attempting to compel the app’s sale to an American firm.

Employees at TikTok are not given access to an organizational chart and are prohibited from building and distributing their own. It’s a popular approach among Chinese firms that wish to prevent rivals from stealing their employees. Ex-employees claim they were informed that a chart wasn’t essential since TikTok is a flat organization where anybody can contact anyone.

As a consequence, individuals may be uncertain about who to contact on other teams or who is sending them messages. Members of the human resources and finance teams at the New York office didn’t realize there were distinct teams doing the same responsibilities in California for months, according to several former workers.

Jamie Lim Yin Yin, a former employee in Singapore, said she had to search up colleagues on LinkedIn to find out which team they were on when she received emails from them.

In a YouTube video explaining why she resigned after just four months, she stated, “Let’s just say LinkedIn was a tab on my computer that was continuously open.”

Employees may search up worker profiles, according to a TikTok spokesperson.

Mr. Martinez, a former ad-sales account director at TikTok, said his bosses told him not to discuss some data with lower-level workers because presentations at TikTok regularly had obscured or missing statistics.

“The indication I got was, ‘We don’t trust you,’” he said. “At TikTok, there’s a degree of confidentiality that’s extremely different from other digital businesses where I’ve worked,” he says.


In a video, former TikTok employee Chloe Shih remarked, “Knowing that the bulk of the business is awake while I am supposed to be sleeping brings me so much worry at night.”

Jessica Pons, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal

TikTok seems to have a significant attrition rate while attracting a large number of candidates. In a thread on Twitter, Lucas Ou-Yang, a former TikTok engineering team manager in Mountain View, Calif., said that the pressure to keep up with Chinese colleagues and work on their schedules drove all 10 of the product managers he worked with to depart after a year on the job.

After an all-hands meeting in November to examine a deluge of U.S. departures hosted by a unit in the engineering department, management decided to a new policy of trying to have meetings in English if not all participants understand Chinese. While the corporation provides translation services, some former workers claim they lose out on too much detail when meetings aren’t held in their native tongue.

Last year, the Chinese government informed companies that a 9-9-6 work schedule, which means 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week, was illegal. ByteDance said that it will follow the “1075” standard, which would be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. five days a week. Longer hours are still expected, according to several staff.

Former TikTok workers in the United States said that they had to start their workweek on Sunday afternoon, which is Monday morning in China, in order to attend virtual meetings with supervisors in Beijing.

In a YouTube video, Chloe Shih, a former employee in California, claimed, “I genuinely believe I acquired a sleep condition from working so late into the nights.” “Knowing that the bulk of the business is up when I should be sleeping brings me a lot of worry at night.”

Former workers reported that questions regarding work-life balance came up at practically every all-hands meeting.


Offices of TikTok in Los Angeles

Jessica Pons, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal

To reduce the number of late-night requests they had to field, some U.S. managers began encouraging employees to turn off notifications on their internal messaging tool after hours in mid-2021. Employees should schedule out time on their calendars to recharge, according to some. Former bosses said that higher-ups disregarded the calendar notes and booked meetings regardless at specific periods.

“While meetings often transcend time zones, as is common of multinational organizations,” stated a TikTok representative, “we continue to concentrate on methods to give staff support and flexibility.” TikTok also encourages employees to take personal time off, arranges no-meeting periods, and discourages off-hours communications, according to her.

According to Xuezhao Lan, founder and managing partner of venture capital company Basis Set Ventures, competition in China’s IT industry is more intense than in the United States. “Obviously, no one wants to work till 2 a.m.,” she said, “but if staff don’t put in long hours, they won’t survive.” “When outsiders attempt to grasp Chinese culture, they lose that background.”

Many new American recruits at TikTok were sent to Beijing for a week to see Chinese work culture and understand ByteDance’s techniques. The visits were halted by the epidemic. ByteDance also runs a number of additional applications and services, including Douyin, a Chinese equivalent of TikTok.

Many software businesses offer new workers restricted stock units, or RSUs, in exchange for a chance to make a huge profit if the company goes public. RSUs were not offered to the majority of TikTok workers in the United States as part of their hiring and incentive packages until the summer of 2020. When it did, it didn’t extend the incentives to most current U.S. workers, causing confusion and irritation, according to several.

Some TikTok workers have been able to convert their bonuses into RSUs that vest instantly. According to former workers, the benefit was accessible to employees who received excellent ratings in two consecutive performance assessments.

They said those evaluations were based in part on whether employees were deemed to be following the maxims on workplace walls, known as Byte Styles. Many felt that maxims such as “Aim for the highest” and “Be grounded & courageous” were so vague they allowed managers to simply reward employees they liked. Others said that fear of running afoul of one Byte Style—“Be open and humble”—made people wary of speaking out.

According to former workers, TikTok supervisors in the United States skimmed through queries filed concerning RSUs during meetings.

According to individuals familiar with the interaction, Dylan Juhnke, who worked on brand partnerships at the app for more than two years, questioned the director of U.S. human resources why top officials evaded questions about remuneration for 50 weeks in a row during a town hall meeting in April 2021.


Mr. Martinez quit TikTok in February and currently hosts the podcast “Quién T Eres?” on workplace issues.

The Wall Street Journal/Elias Williams photo

He said that if TikTok did not want to respond to such concerns, it should state so rather than dismissing them.

A copy of the correspondence reveals that Mr. Juhnke was admonished by top executives for his actions at the town hall not long after. According to a source familiar with the conversations, human resources initiated an inquiry and questioned whether TikTok could terminate him. Mr. Juhnke left the company a few months later.

TikTok declined to comment on particular employee experiences, such as this one.

TikTok bills itself as a place where users may find “enjoyable, interesting, varied, and surprising encounters.” “The way TikTok workers are being handled is the absolute antithesis of what the TikTok platform stands for,” Mr. Juhnke said in an internal message when he quit.

Georgia Wells, Yoree Koh, and Salvador Rodriguez may be reached at [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected], respectively.

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

TikTok is a social media platform that has gained popularity in recent years. It is known for its fun and addictive features, but it also has an intense work culture. This article explores the company’s culture and how it affects employees. Reference: why do you want to work for tiktok.

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