Article: Facebook's rewards strategy: People focused and mission driven

Compensation & Benefits

Facebook's rewards strategy: People focused and mission driven

Facebook's goal is to make the world more open and connected. And by focusing on people is how it aligns its total rewards practices. J Jerry Moses talks to Genevieve Lim, APAC Head of Total Rewards at Facebook
Facebook's rewards strategy: People focused and mission driven

Not knowing your culture, whatever you do in total rewards, does not work


Creating the right environment where employees feel safe and comfortable enables the company to understand the ROI of their programs - what's working and what isn't


It is the most popular. And the numbers say it all. 

Facebook leads social networking platforms and the latest scores on its user community reveal a staggering truth – 1.59 billion use Facebook each month, and these numbers are growing every day. The only question that comes to the minds of most people is – How did a twelve year old company with an ambitious goal to ‘connect everyone in the world’ achieve so much in such a short span of time? What is the USP of this organization?

‘Putting people first’ – a strategic approach adopted by Facebook is the answer according to Genevieve Lim, APAC Head of Total Rewards, Facebook. Whether that has to do with the business, culture or even with its rewards philosophy, the focus is on people. A key differentiator lies in the company’s mission-driven culture, where every employee is not only able to articulate what the mission of the company is but is able to translate and relate it to their work. And the same holds true for the company’s total rewards program. Lim points out that “while the success of a business lies in the strategy of the company for a benefits program, culture is the strategy and not knowing your culture, whatever you do, will not work.” If HR does not understand the role of culture, they will not be able to implement the right total rewards strategy because in the end, a good benefits program re-enforces the culture of the company.

Impact-focused culture

Facebook’s cultural orientation is one that is focused on impact, where employees are encouraged to focus on the biggest problem that is important to their career. Lim says that “although it may sound easy, we try to ensure that we do not set boundaries to them”. To make sure that employees feel empowered, the company has two mantras: 

  1. No problem is someone else’s problem: and although there are no rules, the company’s core values are central to the employees’ work. 

  2. Courage: Employees are encouraged to think about what they would do if they were not afraid. The emphasis is on making bold decisions – in a world that is risk averse, “not taking risk is the biggest risk, which also means accepting failures along the way” says Lim.

The core values of the company are built on focus, speed and prioritization based on impact. The core values of Facebook are:

  • Move fast and break things
  • Stay focused and keep shipping
  • Done is better than perfect
  • Ruthless prioritization

In keeping with the mission of the company, which is to make the world ‘more open and connected’, the company’s leadership encourages a culture of sharing information and they also regularly ask for feedback. This is led by the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, who conducts a weekly Q&A, where employees curious about the CEO’s work or the future of the business, can ask questions directly to him. “It is the kind of openness that leaders across the region practice”, says Lim. Apart from that, there are one-to-one discussions and employee focus groups within the Facebook platform designed to identify how engaged employees are. Lim notes that creating the right environment where employees feel safe and comfortable enables the company to understand the RoI of their programs - what’s working and what isn’t.

The company also has what it calls “Facebook tribes”, which is similar to a Facebook group. It’s like creating a WhatsApp group with your friends which works on the same philosophy. Employees have an option to choose whether or not they want to join a specific Facebook tribe. “There are a few tribes that employees will join that impacts them the most – basis their job and these aspects have been instrumental in shaping our benefits programs” adds Lim. Quoting a recent example of the importance of social media impacting the benefits strategy, Lim notes that when the company rolled out their paternity program, there were concerns that were voiced on their platform about how this will impact business. Whether there would be a replacement for someone who is going to be away for four months of paternity leave? - “So it then links back to the Facebook philosophy of being open and transparent, and we share information about why and how decisions are taken” adds Lim.

Total Rewards framework

How does a company with ‘no-rules’ environment, an emphasis on staying ‘open and connected’ and also growing at scale conduct its total rewards program? 

While most people assume that organizations growing at the pace of Facebook focus excessively on compensation, Lim argues that this is not the case. The company focuses equally on non-monetary rewards. At the end of the day, the value added to the company and the impact plays a key role. In order to reward employees positively, the company employs Analytics right from the hiring stage throughout the employee life cycle with the goal to incentivize the right behaviors. “So, we ask questions that are relevant to it, whether that has to do with optimizing our benefits spend or assessing the impact “says Lim. 

Apart from Analytics that is based on measuring the success of the business in terms of year-on-year growth and retention rate, the company also conducts subjective surveys twice a year to understand the employee needs. Along with market benchmarking, the company looks at performance data across various levels in the organization for the purposes of its compensation strategy. The emphasis is however on breaking away from norms – which means not being focused on matching benefits and rewards based on competitors but focusing on employee needs. So it involves asking questions such as: “Is it really relevant to my employees? What resonates better?”

 When it comes to benefits, the organization strives for global consistency, but they also look at areas where they can work on local relevance. 

The pillars of Benefits@Facebook

Facebook benefits deck is based on seven pillars:

  1. Health – including insurance and wellness

  2. Community – encouraging causes and hobbies

  3. Family – focusing on providing care and support

  4. Growth – providing opportunities to learn and grow

  5. Finance – focusing on rewarding performance and impact

  6. Convenience – supporting daily needs of employees

  7. Time away – including career break and parental leave

Some unique benefits that Facebook offers include access to doctors around the world, hobby clubs, food, snacks, on-campus health clinics, laundry services, transportation and much more. The community pillar includes a Global Causes Day, where employees rally for causes that they care about. It also provides survival benefits which is an extended support to families of employees who pass away during the tenure with the company. 

Unlike other major competitors in the internet space, Facebook remains a tight knit company with about 12,691 employees across the world. The company’s emphasis on impact and performance has enabled it to attract the best talent to drive innovation – whether that’s in its oculus business or artificial intelligence. Facebook’s clarity of purpose, in the form of its mission, its culture of open engagement hold key lessons for organizations that are facing the new frontiers of business amidst a new generation of employees.

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Topics: Compensation & Benefits, Benefits & Rewards, Employee Engagement, #RedefiningRewards

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