Talent development has become increasingly important for many enterprises over the pandemic, as talent shortages have highlighted the need to upskill staff.
Despite this push for development existing in many businesses that have been faced with the ‘Great Resignation‘, the parent company of Chinese social media platform TikTok, ByteDance, has taken a different direction.
In December, ByteDance decided to dissolve its global talent development team. The company has not confirmed how many people were let go from the company, but CNBC estimates between 70 and 100 people were affected by the layoffs. In fact, a member of staff who transferred to a different area in the company said the total number of workers hit by the layoffs was “closer to 100 than to 10.”
Although there are claims of significant staff losses, ByteDance has insisted that those impacted by the initial decision were allowed to apply for different roles within the company. Additionally, university graduates were guaranteed transfers out of the HR department.
In a statement, a ByteDance spokesperson said: “All talent development employees were able to apply for different opportunities within the company, and most of the impacted employees have found new roles internally and have successfully transferred and integrated into new teams.”
Why did ByteDance get rid of talent and development?
ByteDance has made a strong statement about the ineffectiveness of its talent development team.
In an internal memo, the company noted talent development had “limited practical value” and represented a “disconnect” from the company’s needs.
“We initially hoped to narrow down the scope of talent development work, and then assess and determine which elements are indeed scalable and applicable in the long run.
“However, because the team has already grown quite large, we have decided to no longer retain the Talent Development Center as many of its roles and functions are not in tune with our current development strategies” continued the statement.
A spokesperson told CNBC: “[ByteDance] took a fresh look at our teams and our employees’ needs and restructured this part of the business to be better integrated across the HR organization and other high growth areas.”
Many will see this as a worrying sign for internal development, but ByteDance’s spokesperson added: “Talent development is still very much a priority for us and for our employees.”
In the memo sent to employees the company noted: “The fact that we truly value talent development is why we want to avoid wasting our teams’ time and energy, and not mislead them into an ‘illusion of growth.’
“This was the very rationale for such major adjustments on our part. It’s easy to get carried away in the false impression that employees are growing professionally when they are not, and this is unhealthy and even harmful to both the employees and the company.”
To support the move, ByteDance highlighted internal data: “Many learning events, such as online talks of mediocre quality with over 1000 people or sharings given by [key opinion leaders] which could be easily found on the Internet, did not make very effective use of our employees’ time.
“Some respondents mentioned that employees believed such initiatives to be ‘personally helpful’, but candidly speaking, these are more like ‘feel-good’ initiatives that are self-indulging and ‘doing things for the sake of doing things’, where the actual value is limited and questionable.”
This decision furthers ByteDance’s reduction in spending on learning. The company cut staff after Beijing introduced new rules limiting after-school tutoring in August.
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