TikTok Parent Company ByteDance’s High Turnover Strategy: Employees as Disposable Batteries?

TikTok Parent Company ByteDance’s High Turnover Strategy: Employees as Disposable Batteries?

Jane Park
4 min read

ByteDance's Human Resource Strategy: A Deep Dive

ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, has recently come under scrutiny for its controversial human resource practices, which highlight a belief that employees cannot be trained or cultivated effectively. This approach has led to high turnover rates, significant layoffs, and a focus on immediate productivity rather than long-term employee development. The Feishu department, for instance, witnessed substantial layoffs, with 1,000 out of 5,000 employees being let go. In contrast, competitors like DingTalk and Enterprise WeChat, with smaller teams, have managed to maintain better performance.

Key Takeaways

  1. High Turnover and Layoffs: ByteDance frequently resorts to layoffs and high employee turnover, indicating a preference for immediate performance over long-term employee retention and development. This strategy is evident in departments like Feishu, which experienced significant downsizing despite having a larger workforce than its competitors.
  2. Immediate Productivity Focus: The company tends to hire employees based on their immediate skills and output. Once employees are no longer deemed productive, they are quickly replaced. This approach treats employees as disposable assets rather than long-term investments.
  3. Leadership Challenges: There is a significant disparity in leadership styles within ByteDance. While some leaders are committed to mentoring and developing their teams, others prefer a more authoritarian approach, focusing on short-term results over employee growth.
  4. Employee Experiences: Employees, particularly new graduates, often feel underutilized and unmentored. They struggle to find growth opportunities within the company, leading to dissatisfaction and high turnover rates.


ByteDance’s approach to human resources is deeply rooted in its rapid expansion strategy and the high demands of staying competitive in the tech industry. The company's preference for immediate productivity over long-term employee development has several implications:

  1. Operational Efficiency Over Employee Growth: ByteDance’s strategy to hire employees ready to deliver results without significant investment in their development might be efficient in the short term. However, it risks long-term inefficiencies as it overlooks the benefits of nurturing employee loyalty, innovation, and in-depth organizational knowledge.

  2. Leadership and Mentorship: Employee experiences indicate a mixed approach to leadership within ByteDance. Some leaders invest in their teams, fostering a collaborative and growth-oriented environment. However, others operate in a top-down manner, stifling innovation and discouraging independent thinking. The inconsistency in leadership styles affects overall employee morale and productivity.

  3. Cultural Shifts: The company's culture has shifted significantly, particularly after major leadership changes. The departure of key leaders who valued mentorship and collaboration has led to a more fragmented and less supportive work environment. This shift has impacted employee satisfaction and retention negatively.

  4. Market Competitiveness: ByteDance’s strategy to outnumber competitors with a larger workforce has not necessarily translated into superior performance. The Feishu department's layoffs highlight the inefficacy of this approach, as smaller teams at competitors have managed to outperform with fewer resources.

  5. Lack of Strategic Precision: ByteDance’s reliance on a large workforce for AB testing and rapid product iteration often leads to a lack of strategic precision. The company’s products and responsible managers tend to be less thoughtful, relying on abundant resources to make quick changes rather than developing well-thought-out strategies.

  6. Inexperienced Employees: New graduates and young employees often face a challenging environment at ByteDance. Without proper mentorship and suitable projects, they struggle to develop their skills. Despite their high qualifications, the lack of growth opportunities hampers their career progression and competitiveness in the job market.

Did You Know?

  • Interview Process: ByteDance’s interview process is extensive, often involving multiple long rounds with numerous questions. Despite this rigorous selection, job security remains uncertain, as many employees face the possibility of being replaced if they do not meet immediate productivity expectations.
  • Early Employee Experience: In the early days of ByteDance, the company was known as an app factory, emphasizing rapid product development and deployment. This focus on speed left little room for nurturing and developing talent, which has continued to affect the company's approach to human resources.
  • Leadership Impact: Leadership style at ByteDance significantly impacts company culture. Leaders who prioritize their job security over team development create a toxic work environment, leading to high stress and job dissatisfaction among employees. This environment discourages innovation and independent thinking.
  • Innovation Stifled: The constant pressure to produce immediate results can stifle innovation at ByteDance. Employees who fear layoffs are less likely to take risks or propose new ideas, leading to a less dynamic and innovative company culture.
  • High Salaries for Immediate Output: ByteDance is known for offering high salaries and stock options to attract talent quickly. However, this approach emphasizes short-term gains over long-term employee development and retention.
  • Employee Battery Analogy: ByteDance’s employees often feel like disposable batteries—used intensively until drained, then replaced. This analogy highlights the company's focus on extracting maximum productivity without investing in employee growth and well-being.
  • Leadership Disparity: The leadership disparity at ByteDance contributes to inconsistent employee experiences. While some leaders encourage collaboration and mentorship, others maintain a hierarchical approach, hindering effective communication and teamwork.

ByteDance's approach to human resources highlights the delicate balance between short-term productivity and long-term employee development. While the immediate gains from a large, ready-to-go workforce can be enticing, sustainable growth often depends on investing in and cultivating a loyal and capable team.

You May Also Like

This article is submitted by our user under the News Submission Rules and Guidelines. The cover photo is computer generated art for illustrative purposes only; not indicative of factual content. If you believe this article infringes upon copyright rights, please do not hesitate to report it by sending an email to us. Your vigilance and cooperation are invaluable in helping us maintain a respectful and legally compliant community.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get the latest in enterprise business and tech with exclusive peeks at our new offerings