Apple employees voice frustration with work culture under Tim Cook

“Apple employees are voicing growing discontent for the workplace under boss Tim Cook, according to employee surveys ranking the top 100 CEOs,” David Pierini writes for Cult of Mac. “Cook’s spot on Glassdoor’s annual list was 96, down from 53 a year ago in what was the biggest fall for a tech CEO on the list.”

“Glassdoor’s ranking of Cook was based on 12,054 Apple employee reviews,” Pierini writes. “There are a number of reoccurring answers in the Pros and Cons categories and not everyone saw the work culture in the same way.”

“There were 903 reviewers who griped about work-life balance, but 213 others said work-life balance was great,” Pierini writes. “One former or anonymous employee with more than five years with Apple had a short but blunt list of Cons that read: ‘No work life balance. Management does not care if you’re burnt out. Compared to other companies, the pay is below average.’ Asked what advice the employee would have for management, the employee said, ‘Some re-training might be in order because clearly, you have forgotten how to treat people.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in January 2015 in an open letter to Tim Cook:

We occasionally hear things about the company from Apple employees.

Some of those things lead us to wonder if perhaps you should rethink some aspects of the culture at Apple? Specifically, what really should constitute a badge of honor at Apple? Working all day, all weekend and all night in order to squat out iOS 8.0.1 and then have to turn around and do it all over again, in a panic, to get iOS 8.0.2 out the door in order to clean up the mess? Or taking the time necessary to do the job correctly the first time?

People with proper sleep and lower stress levels do better work. Many major medical studies prove these facts. Shouldn’t quality, not quantity, of hours worked be the utmost badge of honor at Apple?

Working long hours simply for the sake of working long hours is counterproductive. It really doesn’t prove anything except that you have no life and that, despite all of their work on Apple Watch, Apple executives still do not understand basic human health requirements and are incapable of properly staffing their departments so that they can function without requiring sleep-deprived, mistake-prone employees who feel that it’s a job requirement to be able to reply to emails from managers at 2:00 am. That’s idiocy.

Driving too hard, too fast, and for too long leads to accidents.

We speak from experience, albeit at a far, far smaller level than yours. We’ve tried and been exposed to several methods as both managers and employees in the television, financial, and online media industries. Regardless of the size of your department or company, people are people. You can push people to a point that’s very productive, but when you exceed that point, it’s all downhill for everyone involved. It’s not a badge of honor. It’s not an “I love this company!” statement. It’s simply mismanagement. It’s verifiably unhealthy and it leads directly to diminished quality, increased turnover, and productivity declines. And customer satisfaction ultimately suffers. Hence this letter.

Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015


  1. What a crazy diatribe MDN, based on a single data point survey! Clearly MDN has zero staff issues and perfect workplace, you certainly cast the first stone, a very large one!

    1. It has a LOT less to do with the number of hours per week or per month an employee puts in than the energy and level of effort put in. A well motivated employee can work 70+ hours a week for many weeks in a row with great energy and enthusiasm and do great things.

      The issue is leadership. Great leaders can motivate people to do great things even if it takes great efforts.

      The problem is Apple currently has no such leadership. None. There is no one at Apple who tells the rank and file, “We’re going to do the damn near impossible things (and maybe the impossible things too). We ARE going to do this. You need to get on board, or you need to leave. For those that stay the company *will* support you in any realistic way needed in order to get things done. We all must do this. Period.”

      I have zero sympathy for those salaried employees that want a 40 hour week with 2-5 weeks of vacation a year and every conceivable holiday off. They should be introduced to dairy farmers. Dairy cattle don’t care what day it is. They don’t care about holidays. They don’t care that it takes a 7 day a week job.

  2. Steve Jobs’s designated heir was not going to be “Mr. which way to the employee ping-pong table lounge.” I would suggest that if you have the right job, then having Apple on your resume is a big plus moving forward in your career. Work-life balance is always a challenge, for pretty much every company these days.

  3. Reported: just over 900 people expressed some frustration. This # comes from a company of around 80,000 employees…I’d call that a small percentage of reported negatives. I’m not a TC fan, but we are increasingly becoming a company of whiners. Of course one would wish pay was higher, chain of command would be friendlier, or less apparent, managers would modify requirements/tenor/environment per complaints/suggestions.
    Work, people at work and how one feels at work, often feels bad. Maybe I need to change into my millennial suit?

  4. All those employees and none have good ideas like updating a mac? Yet have complaints ? Snowflakes it sounds like. Try the ARMY.

    I bet everyone is very very comfortable there.
    Too comfortable. It feels like they’re coasting.

    The answer is always, “well, you don’t have to do it”

    1. Management is responsible for not updating the Mac. Pipeline directed resources away from the Mac. I have no doubt that if Pipeline wanted an up to date, world class Mac, Apple employees could do it.

      The problem is with Pipeline, not Apple employees.

    2. Your comments are a bit more harsh than how I see it, but I think they are similar somewhat to mine. I wonder how much of the negative feedback is coming from the Millenials or Entitlement generation as younger workers enter the Apple workforce every year. I don’t think I’d call them snowflakes, but I do think that workers today don’t realize how lucky they have it with work/life balance.

  5. Pipeline is clearly nothing more than a caretaker CEO. That would have been OK if his tenure was short and sweet. Sadly, that’s not the case and now the effects of having Pipeline CEO are showing across Apple’s entire product line. The leadership Apple had in almost every area is now gone. Aperture, software that created (by Apple) the entire genre of Digital Asset Management for photographers, gone- ceded to Adobe.

    iLife- Once dominate software that truly differentiated the Mac experience to the consumer in a way that Windows could NEVER replicate- Gone. The software has stagnated to the point no one cares anymore.

    Monitors- Once truly innovative and beautiful monitors. Gone.

    Routers- By far the easiest routers to use anywhere. Gone.

    Mac Mini- We know.

    Mac Pro-4 years without an update.

    FFS, everyone could add to this list.

    This is the legacy of Pipeline.

    This all falls in the lap of Pipeline.

    Pipeline never even tried to keep Apple competitive. He just milked the Mac for all its worse and left it to rot.

    Pipeline flattened macOS and iOS to the point that it’s beauty, it’s humanity is gone.

    It is long past the time Apple’s board needs to get rid of Pipeline.

    Apple has lost its soul. Pipeline has let it evaporate.

    It is time for Apple to reclaim its soul. NOW, while there is still time.

    You think Apple makes a lot of money now? The sky is the limit if Apple truly regains its mojo.

    FIRE Tim Cook!

    1. Well stated reasons Iksy and long overdue for Pipeline to leave the company.

      I used to think Cook could be reassigned to his old post under Steve or lead Human Resources Diversity after the other executive hire left in a short amount of time we know nothing about.

      But after the two posts here today about employee reaction in surveys, I changed my mind. Seems he may have poisoned the company culture and much worse, the moral.

      Apple Board of Directors: Put aside the cash pile and stock price. Open your mind, eyes and ears and realize under Cook the Apple customers have been disgruntled in so many areas for so many years. Now the Apple employees have been disgruntled in so many areas for so many years. Put the balance sheet down for a moment and look at reality. You NEED a new CEO to lead this company into the future.

  6. Another lovely day at MDN, where every article is an invitation for trolls to inject partisan propaganda into what you falsely claim is a liberal media. Trump lovers, Apple is not the company for you so stop the political bs already. Jesus Christ would be too liberal for your tastes.

  7. Main problem is a lot of those reviews will
    Be skewed by the retail team who are low skilled and paid – and feedback thus. I worked Apple retail – it preached a good game but senior leaders only
    Cared about not rocking the boat and nodding along to protect share options – ‘retail evolution’ anyone?

  8. Thank you MDN for removing my non insulting, on the topic post with quotes and the special /shjtt (satire humor joke and tall tale) tag.

    I would think that most people would not enjoy being constantly insulted at work or actually anywhere so I look forward to being able to once again enjoy the lovely lucid exchanges that I have here for many years without suffering a barrage of constant degrading insults.

    One thing I’ve learned from Mac users and people that work at Apple is that we are passionate about the tools that Apple has provided us and that passion coupled with a rationale approach is one reason we strive to be the best we can be.

    If the work culture at Apple deviates, then the course needs to be corrected. I hope Tim becomes aware of that. We don’t get far dealing with and reflecting upon issues when there is a constant barrage insults or other distractions that get in the way of us being our best.

    I thank you for the fine work you are doing. I’ve said it before and I say it again, I’m 95% thumbs up for MDN, proud to be part of the community and I’m not worried about a few bumps along the way. I feel the same way about Apple as well.

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