Apple is losing staff by the dozen. But that’s not a problem

Dozens of high-ranking Apple staffers have departed the company for rivals this year, the latest of which is Tanya Ridd, head of Apple’s corporate PR in Europe, who last week ditched the iPhone maker for Snap.Ridd’s move follows a swathe of Apple employees running to Tesla, including Bas Ording, Apple UI designer; Chris Lattner, head developer of X-Code; Matt Casebolt, director of product design; Sarah O’Brien, communications head; and Colin Smith, Mac communications director.

What this says about Apple’s own stalling car efforts, we dare not speculate. (Though ex-staffers have also gone to GoPro, eBay, Y Combinator, Waymo and more.)

Is it a sign of trouble at Apple, or the simple evolution of any big corporation? Benedict Evans, of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, isn’t convinced the staff churn stems from turmoil at Apple. “It’s a big company, and they have turnover,” he said in an email to WIRED. “I don’t think one can draw a line between a programming language developer leaving… and a PR person in London.”

Mark Di-Toro, careers expert at Glassdoor, also doesn’t believe the executive exodus reflects wider issues. “When senior people leave, there’s always that natural churn of employees — that happens everywhere,” Di-Tor told WIRED. “High profile departures always raise eyebrows, but the reality is they’re one of the best places to work in the world.”

Don’t roll your eyes: Glassdoor has the data to back that up. Di-Toro said in the UK employees rated Apple 41st best to work, and in the US 36th, out of tens of thousands of companies. CEO Tim Cook was rated the best CEO, with a 93 per cent rating — well above the average on the site of 66 per cent. Apple’s score from Glassdoor users, which are employees at the companies they rate, is four out of five, well above the 3.3 average across the site.

Di-Toro noted that Glassdoor users are asked to leave both positive and negative feedback. For Apple, users report highlights such as innovative products to work on, solid employee benefits and pay, and plenty of opportunities to learn. On the downside, Apple staff complain about long hours and employee favouritism, and say there are limited paths to progress in their careers, as well as staff retention problems. “If you’re in a company and you don’t feel there’s a path of progression, you’re going to look elsewhere,” Di-Toro said.

That could explain some of the departing executives, though Di-Toro has another theory: as any company evolves and matures, its needs change, and top-notch staff may find themselves less in demand, or even unnecessary. “There may have been senior staff at Apple that gained fantastic experience launching new products or into new markets… and then another company comes along and needs that type of experience,” he added. “It’s an extremely competitive environment… they’re willing to pay a lot of money to get the best talent.”