Facebook’s corporate name will be changed to Meta, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, to reflect the company’s greater emphasis on creating a virtual environment known as a metaverse. However, rebranding may have minimal impact on the employer’s efforts to retain and recruit new staff.
“I doubt this will redeem or protect the employer brand much,” says Georgetown University business professor Brooks Holtom, who specializes in how organizations acquire, develop, and retain human and social capital.
“With Facebook facing so many missteps and public criticism tarnishing the brand, people in the know won’t be fooled by this rebranding,” Holtom tells CNBC Make It.
In recent weeks, there has been increased scrutiny of Zuckerberg and Facebook for their management of misinformation and hate speech, as well as their potential to hurt teenagers and children. The fresh inquiries follow the publication of internal documents to the press by ex-Facebook employee turned whistleblower Frances Haugen, which reveal the business is aware that its goods and services might cause harm but struggles to address it.
In an earnings call Monday, Zuckerberg denied the claims of the documents, saying they “paint a false picture of our company,” and that the problems Facebook experiences are a reflection of society. But the latest news of the company rebrands, already being criticized for being a distraction from its slate of allegations, could coincide with, if not fuel, employee turnover.
“Facebook has talented people, and competitors in the market are looking for that talent,” Holtom says. “It’s extremely competitive. You can be sure companies are preparing to reach out selectively to inquire about people thinking of moving. It’s a precarious time for Facebook from a talent perspective.”
According to employee ratings on the review site Glassdoor, Facebook’s reputation as a great company to work for has been declining for several years after gaining the top spot in 2018. Following accusations that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica inappropriately accessed the data of 87 million Facebook users, it dropped to No. 7 on the 2019 list. It was ranked No. 23 in 2020 before rising to No. 11 in 2021.
Earlier this summer, Facebook was among the first influential firms to say that after the pandemic, all employees might request to work remotely full-time, and that plans to return to the office would be postponed until 2022.
Still, the rebrand could bolster retention and hiring efforts for highly specialized employees involved in metaverse work for “the chance to work on something really revolutionary with a large budget,” Holtom says. But it’s unlikely the company will see a positive impact among the public or employees not involved in metaverse work, Holtom says: “I think they’re at big risk.”