A former TikTok employee told the WSJ she bled through her clothes rather than leave continuous meetings to grab a tampon.
The outlet reported on TikTok’s intense culture, citing anonymous sources and public online discussion.
Former employees described long hours, stress, and lack of clarity on organizational issues.
TikTok is only apparently fun if you don’t work there, according to a story published Friday in The Wall Street Journal.
Former employees described to the outlet a high-pressure culture: 85 hours of meetings a week, lack of sleep, mental anguish—and even one person who said they bled through their pants instead of leaving a meeting to grab a tampon.
“The way TikTok employees are being treated is the exact opposite of what the TikTok platform stands for,” wrote Dylan Juhnke in a memo in 2021, which he posted “internally” after he was disciplined for asking in a town hall why higher-ups at the company ignored questions about employee compensation and resigned, the WSJ reported.
Other people who once worked at TikTok said they had dramatic emotional and weight swings and even went to therapy, the story added.
Another said they could only convince a manager not to force them to work all night two days in a row after showing documentation about a life-threatening medical condition.
The story quoted several anonymous sources as well as public YouTube videos and Medium articles where people described working at TikTok.
One of those online stories was from Melody Chu, who recounted in three Medium posts, “What it’s really like working at TikTok.”
“I gave up weeknight dinners with my husband,” she wrote in an April post. “My most stressful meetings like leadership reviews would often take place on Sundays or past 10pm, leaving me anxious throughout my day and unable to sleep at night.”
In Chu’s first post in January, she noted that TikTok was a highly taxing environment, despite her past experience in tech companies—a point also made by sources in the WSJ story.
“I’d like to think that I’ve done some hard things in my career thus far,” Chu said in her blog post, adding that she had worked at Facebook for five years, then learned how to code and became an engineer at NextDoor.
“The employees, many of them veterans of other major tech companies, say TikTok emphasizes relentless productivity and secrecy to a degree uncommon in the industry,” the outlet wrote.
As the WSJ piece discusses, there is a sense of China’s “9-9-6” culture at TikTok, where people work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week. TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is headquartered in Bejing, China.
These working hours are pretty prevalent at the company, despite a public attempt to have people work from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, former TikTok employee Pabel Martinez told Insider in April.
“I do think that the culture of working too much or not having as much of the work-life balance does permeate throughout the organization, and it is often encouraged you work ‘after hours,'” he told Insider last month. “The 996 policy’s infamous.”
Employees also told Insider in December that ByteDance holds a lot of sway over TikTok, (despite making attempts to make things appear otherwise) including working hours, straining on US-based employees — of whom the company has been hiring in the thousands the last two years.
TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor Chu to a LinkedIn message.
Sources told the WSJ that people put up with the harsh conditions because they could cash out if ByteDance goes public.
“You want to be on that rocket ship,” Martinez told the outlet.
Read the full WSJ piece here.
Read the original article on Business Insider