back to article Ever wondered what it's like working for Microsoft? Leaked survey shines a light on how those at the code coalface feel

You aren't the only one feeling like you're giving more than you're getting from your employer – a chunk of Microsofties are of the same opinion. A leaked employee survey seen by Business Insider gives an insight into what it is like to toil within the walls of Redmond. Microsoft itself did not wish to comment on the poll, it …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "better deals on offer"

    Maybe so. But when your employer owns LinkedIn, you might tend to be careful what you say about them.

    1. Gil Grissum

      Re: "better deals on offer"

      I stopped using Linked IN as soon as they bought it!

    2. Duffaboy

      Re: "better deals on offer"

      Everyone knows that most of the profiles on Linkedin are full of BS and fake info.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alert

    Developers!

    You need someone who cares about you

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VM-2OVNt-eQ

    Caution: Do not leave the above video running - it's a bit long!

  4. Korgonzolla

    I worked for MS for a number of years in a cybersecurity role (we did exist!), and to be honest they were a pretty good employer all round. The salary was about average for the time; the hours were pretty much 9-to-5, could work remotely when required, performance bonuses were generous, and the package overall was good. I did work with a few lifers who mentioned the horrors of the late stage Ballmer era, but the early Nadella period was fairly optimistic I must say.

    You always feel like you're a small cog in a very big machine there, which is true I suppose.

    One of the better places I've worked tbh, which I know won't go down well with the regulars around here.

    1. Mike 125
      Trollface

      >One of the better places I've worked tbh, which I know won't go down well with the regulars around here.

      unless the other places were a Sports Direct warehouse and a garment factory in Leicester.

    2. AMBxx Silver badge
      Windows

      I did a fair bit of work for MS about 20 years ago at their UK HQ. At the time, it was always said that 'you never meet ex-Microsoft employees'. Mostly true at the time - it was a great place to work so nobody left.

      Not quite so true now due to layoffs but still one of the very few companies I'd consider working for (I freelance, so enjoy the freedom).

    3. cookieMonster

      A regular here, I too worked for them, but wayyyy before monkey boy made it to the top.

      I concur with your assessment. I was there for ~7 yrs and enjoyed it. Great people (even the HR), hard working, intelligent and friendly.

      I honestly don’t have a bad thing to say about my time there, the software...... that’s another matter altogether.

    4. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Oh I think the regulars have no issues working at Microsoft

      Working with Microsoft, now that is a different ball game...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm a new arrival, having had them recently acquire my company. Things were good before but I certainly can't complain now. I must say it felt rather awkward hearing the lady at the Tesco checkout muttering about how awful things are when my own personal situation has never been better. It's early days, of course, but I honestly have no concerns. The core day job is much the same as it ever was and while I am aware of changes in the months ahead, they are all positive ones.

    It sounds like some of these complainers don't know how good they've got it. Can't please everyone, I suppose. Perhaps they've never actually worked elsewhere? When I consider the other companies that could have acquired us, I'm very glad. Imagine if it had been Oracle! I wouldn't work there if they paid me twice as much.

    I wasn't able to participate in MS Poll this time around as I haven't been there long enough yet but I have had other smaller surveys sent my way, as recently as today, so they do care what you think.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "It sounds like some of these complainers don't know how good they've got it"

      Exactly this! I work for a large tech firm, and often see sizeable amounts of entitlement from employees that have obviously never had another, or a bad job. Their complaints that unsolicited gifts and employee benefits from the company don't suit them are nauseating to the core. The entitlement oozes out of what they say and demand, many of them having come straight from university into a highly paid position, and obviously having no concept of how the majority are treated at work.. The company treats all employees amazingly well, but they seem to believe that their every whimsical demand should be met, and that the company is terrible if they aren't. For employee surveys such as these, it's probably sensible to ignore a good percentage the lowest and highest employer scores in order to get a more representative average, as the sour grapes at the bottom of the scale, and conversely the sycophancy at the top end, aren't very representative of the reality.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "It sounds like some of these complainers don't know how good they've got it"

        I work for a well-known organisation. I, and the people who have come from the outside, see that it's an excellent place to work. The "lifers" think they're hard done by. Us outsides just shake our heads as they moan about hard done by they are.

        They wouldn't last five minutes in the real world.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "It sounds like some of these complainers don't know how good they've got it"

          Government?

        2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

          Re: "It sounds like some of these complainers don't know how good they've got it"

          Public sector?

          You're talking about teachers, aren't you?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "It sounds like some of these complainers don't know how good they've got it"

        I work at a sizable company that occasionally acquires much smaller companies. There's much hate, distrust and general envy of those that work in the acquisitions.

        Some of the acquisitions don't get assimilated, and I moved into one of those a couple of years ago. Yes, there's free food, and coffee, but the thing that makes it such a pleasure to work there are the people. Genuinely nice, want to get stuff done, and not afraid to try something new, even if it may fail.... All things that the lifers would never do. And yet, they sit there, full of vitriol expecting someone to hand them utopia on a plate

        1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

          Re: "It sounds like some of these complainers don't know how good they've got it"

          not afraid to try something new, even if it may fail

          That is a sign of good management/leadership: Not making mistakes seem like a failure.

        2. Warm Braw Silver badge

          Re: "It sounds like some of these complainers don't know how good they've got it"

          there's free food, and coffee

          This has always been a mystery to me. If your employees are so badly paid they're malnourished, I can see this might be a differentiator. However, I'm not sure there are many people working in IT whose standard of living will be materially changed by the offer of a daily sachet of Gold Blend and a banana - yet it seems to be a prominent feature of job adverts. Weird.

          1. James Anderson Silver badge

            Re: "It sounds like some of these complainers don't know how good they've got it"

            The free food is there to keep you in the office for longer.

            It's all part of the USAin obsession with being at the workplace for an excessive number of hours.

            It should be noted that countries that mandate shorter working week are just as productive.

            1. Daniel M

              Re: "It sounds like some of these complainers don't know how good they've got it"

              "It's all part of the USAin obsession with being at the workplace for an excessive number of hours."

              Er, our neighbor to the south has a six-day, forty-four to forty-eight-hour workweek and effective corporate ownership of employees despite its many labor laws that are supposed to defend employees and unions.

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBdU9v5nLKQ

          2. Hugo

            Re: "It sounds like some of these complainers don't know how good they've got it"

            What's weird about free drinks/coffee? It's a basic requirement as far as I'm concerned - I wouldn't work for a company that only had those 1990s style soapy dishwater coffee machines. You save a fortune over coughing up for Starbucks or whatever N times a day. Instant coffee is not the same.

            Free food would be lovely - even better savings to be had - and no tax man involved. Lunch is expensive in the city.

            Let's face it if companies want people to go back to the office - they're going to have to start offering decent perks to compete. Otherwise why would you bother with the faff / expense?

            1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
              Pirate

              Re: "It sounds like some of these complainers don't know how good they've got it"

              Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, you had to go to the canteen and actually PAY for a cup of "coffee".

              This, of course, was an outrage, and we engineers decided to take matters into our own hands. And thus was born the Kam-Lac Koffee Cooperative (named for our two founders). The deal was that you'd pay a buck a week, for all the coffee you could drink. The only rule was that if you killed the pot, you had to make another. We bought a Mr Coffee and plugged it in to a wall outlet in the office area. Membership soared, all the engineers, and their managers (this will become significant later) .Turns out, a buck a week from 30 or so people ends up being more than a couple of cans of Chock-Full-o-Nuts or Maxwell House costs.

              We had LOTS of money left over. So we instituted donut Fridays. I'd stop and buy a couple dozen donuts each Friday and leave them by the coffee pot. This went on for months, until one of the security guards spotted the pot. FIRE HAZARD! Must be removed! Well, the issue escalated, so we added a timer to make sure the pot was off after working hours. Not enough, we were told. By now, we were beginning to think that just perhaps, the canteen might have had something to do with this sudden problem.

              Remember the part about our management being members? The problem quietly went away, and Kam-Lac continued. Layoffs killed it, but we had a good run and went through 2 or 3 Mr Coffees. Wore them out. For those curious, this was at Data General in Westboro, 1980s. Long before companies started offering free coffee as a "perk". Now, of course, it's all about how "gourmet" the offerings are.

      3. Paper

        Re: "It sounds like some of these complainers don't know how good they've got it"

        Sometimes it can be simple as which manager you have as to what your experience is. You can be having a great experience under a good manager, while your colleague who complains is having a bad time under his/her novice manager.

    2. Lusty

      If you notice though, the only thing the "complainers" complained about was their deal. This effectively means that when asked "Do we pay you enough?" they decided not to click the "Oh yes, too much if anything" button and instead opted for "I like money, and I'd quite like more please".

      That's not a complaint, it's common sense. Everyone involved knows that and realistically the score achieved is probably the highest possible in a normal employee population.

  6. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Meh

    what was NOT said

    has anyone made any comments about the corporate culture within Micros~1?

    I am pretty well convinced that even if I am perceived as being a coding genius beyond all doubt, I would NEVER be able to work there.

    (Anyone who has seen my posts would probably know why)

    I would be VERY interested in seeing what the political spectrum of Micros~1 employees are, how many voted for Trump in 2020, how many are registered Republicans, and so on. Was THIS (or anything related to it) in the survey? [business insider wants me to subscribe to read it, and I really didn't want to, and didn't see much else on teh intarwebs in a limited search]

    I did see the mention of terms 'diversity' and 'inclusion' and things like that in other articles (including this one) but it has been my general observation that "inclusion" of political conservatives in "woke" companies may not be very "diverse". I do not know if Micros~1 is like this internally. It would be nice to know. If last year's election is any indicator, it would affect about HALF of the people in the USA.

    If I am right, it would be a LOT like it is at Google... or any OTHER "big tech" mega-corporation.

    related El Reg article: https://www.theregister.com/2021/02/23/mspoll_2021/

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: what was NOT said

      "I would be VERY interested in seeing what the political spectrum of Micros~1 employees are, how many voted for Trump in 2020, how many are registered Republicans, and so on. Was THIS (or anything related to it) in the survey?"

      As you can imagine, a survey about what the employees think about the corporation doesn't include extra useless questions like that. A good thing too. If my employer ever asked me something like that, they would get A) no answer to that question, B) no answers to most of the following questions because my focus is no longer on their survey, C) a cold statement that the question serves no purpose and is inappropriate if the survey contains an "anything you'd like to comment on" question, and D) reduced performance from me while I consider whether that's actually where I want to work.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: what was NOT said

      It’s a global company so the vast majority don’t care about either US party, we don’t live there so it only affects us when you vote in a total nut job.

      MS wouldn’t care about your political leanings. They might be bothered if you rant about them inappropriately during the work day, so that might be an issue for you. They do support diversity though so if your rantings can be explained as neuro diversity you might be OK.

      Just because a company cares doesn’t mean they’re woke crazies.

    3. Triggerfish

      Re: what was NOT said

      Maybe by not thinking their employees have to share their personal political affiliations they are actually allowing more diversity and freedom?

    4. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: what was NOT said

      "I can't work in this company, there's just not enough hate"

    5. Naselus

      Re: what was NOT said

      "I am pretty well convinced that even if I am perceived as being a coding genius beyond all doubt, I would NEVER be able to work there."

      You have a valid point. Many companies are unwilling to hire even tremendously talented people if they're complete arseholes.

    6. Paper

      Re: what was NOT said

      Yeah I agree woke culture within companies can be irritating. However you don't have to actually express your political opinions at work. If you don't like woke people doing it, don't add to the BS by doing it yourself. Stay professional.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: what was NOT said

        The problem isn't talking about politics at work, or (worse) being irritating about it [work is for working].

        The problem is whether a company you work for scans your social media or other online information (web sites, USENET posts, IRC channels, lists of political contributors, whatever), and based on what you say or do "NOT at work", THEN decide to terminate you or simply NOT hire you in the FIRST place, NOT because of what you do at work, but because of WHO you are, or what you think, or the political things you contribute money to.

        I think everyone pretty much understands what the term "work safe" means.

        I also draw attention to what happened to the former CTO and later CEO of Mozilla Brendan Eich...

        (As I recall, some journalist merely saw his name in a publicly viewable list of political contributors and then all hell broke loose)

        And what happened to Brendan Eich is more in line to the *kind* of thing I am referring to.

        the question, then, is whether or not Micros~1 looks at "your life outside the company" to filter out new hires... or determine who gets laid off.

      2. Ace2

        Re: what was NOT said

        IIRC the Dilbert take on the issue: “For some reason, the people who are most interested in sharing their religion with me at work don’t seem interested when I try to share my religion with them.”

    7. batfink Silver badge

      Re: what was NOT said

      I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here Bob. Are you saying that you'd never be able to work there because they'd hate you, or because you'd hate them?

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: what was NOT said

        I wouldn''t hate "them" per se.

        Working at Micros~1 would be fun _IF_ I had the authority to put things _LIKE_ 3D Skeuomorphic [as an option. NOT forcing it] back in, or to make all of the spying and ads "opt in", or to ensure that proper testing was done before updates were sent out on patch Tuesday. But I'd have ethical issues if they wanted me to do MORE things like the spying and ads and 2D FLATTY or (worse) to tighten things up so that they can NEVER be bypassed, even with 3rd party add-ons.

  7. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    In a competitive marketplace, being a lovely place to work needs to be balanced by rewards for effort

    Those of use who have been around the block will willingly confirm that money is secondary. A good work environment is by far the most important.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I find that the young, at least when I was, will put with less pleasant work conditions for "extra" money. As I'm not young I have chosen to make somewhat less for more standard business hours.

    2. Oh Matron!

      At my time in life, I'm more concerned about being recognised for the work that I do.

    3. My-Handle Silver badge

      I would counter that, and say that it's a balancing act between the two.

      Yes, money isn't the single defining factor. During my last job move, I actually ended up taking a cut of a few K, but ended up working much closer to home. The drop in fuel costs and the extra time at home more than make up for it.

      My current employer is full of great people (with a few exceptions). Everyone's friendly and easy to get on with, the company regularly hosts minor events, gives small gifts etc. Most of the directors walk about the place as if they're just another man / woman with a job to do. But at the same time, the company is notoriously frugal. I'm definitely not getting paid the industry standard rate, and that makes surviving month to month a little difficult.

    4. Triggerfish

      Was just about to offer same thoughts, as long as to some degree the money difference isn't too much and you can afford to live on it. There is a lot of value in time and mental health. I'd rather get less and have more time than be stuck in an office doing extra hrs each day, bad managers, workmates, stress because that's the culture there.

    5. Mike 125

      For me, it's more: is the work worth doing, from a design / engineering view? Will it make the product or service better?

      The larger the company, the more likely it is that people who haven't a clue, get to control people who have. And the more clueless they are, the more they feel the need to micro-manage.

      The clueless can survive in large outfits.

    6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      A good working environment is essential, but you still have to pay the bills.

    7. Korgonzolla

      That's what I found working for MS. The overall package was decent, but you had the potential to make more working for Google, AirBnB etc. However I noticed way more people joining MS from those companies than leaving to take up roles.

      MS felt mature if that makes sense. It felt like a 40 year old company. There was a lot of lifers there. It was also a very tech first sort of company. I've worked for two of the big audit firms who are now trying to pass themselves off as tech consultancies. The only motive there is upselling, and trying to undermine the IT departments of the companies they mole themselves into. In MS you know you are working for a firm that wants to sell technology. It's not always the best technology, but you do feel there's a common goal there.

      Not a fanboy I swear.

  8. Jason Hindle Silver badge

    You can tell a lot from employees’ social media footprint

    Microsoft and Google employees generally seem quite engaged with the world. At certain other places, it seems employees wisely think it’s best not to be seen having an opinion.

    1. Jay 2

      Re: You can tell a lot from employees’ social media footprint

      Indeed. Too many articles on El Reg as of late reporting on people who have been fired or hounded out of their jobs for what they spew out onto them social medias, but which they generally haven't mentioned in the workplace.

      Overall I think it comes down to "know your audience" and on t'interwebs in most cases that's almost impossible. It's just far too easy for anything to be taken out of context or selectively sampled and blown up into something that it's arguably not.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've been with MS for close to 10 years, and it's by far the best job and working environment I've ever been in - though I think like any job that can be down to your direct managers and peers as much as the company itself. Admittedly some of the shine has worn off over recent years, but I think that's as much about me taking things for granted as anything else - on the occasions I do start looking elsewhere, I soon come scuttling back.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We're in the middle of a pandemic. No-one in their right mind is going to speak freely if they fear for their job (even if we *weren't* in a pandemic I'd suspect the same to be true).

    Where I work, I have no idea how what I say or respond to in a survey will count against me. Even then I have, on occasion, still spoken my mind.

    - Am I grateful I have a job? Yes, of course!

    - Do I like the way I am pressured into working extreme hours? No. I could resist, but it will count against me.

    - Do I like my job? Well I'd like it more if management would let me actually get on and do it properly!

    - Have I worked at better places? Yes, certainly.

    - Have I worked at worse places? Kind of - just as bad in different ways I guess.

    - Would I like more money? Who wouldn't? My wage increases (or lack thereof) have been well below the rate of inflation.

    My point is, its all subjective. The working environment will make different people feel different things at different times. If its so bad, people will find a way to leave it all behind. The pandemic has just slowed that down a little.

  11. batfink Silver badge

    Using products for nefarious purposes

    I don't have a lot of time for the "we should only make products which are used for niceness" objectors, as per the "Microsoft workers for good" quote in the article.

    Ok, fair enough, if your company makes autonomous robots, let's not put guns on them as well.

    However, this is a very deep rabbit-hole to go down. Here we have Hololens seemingly being used for Badness. This thinking could be applied to almost any consumer item or infrastructure. Roads can also be used by the military. Should your company therefore not build roads? Communications should be right out. Likewise energy producers, steel mills, air traffic control systems etc etc etc.

    Toyota should shut up shop immediately, as it's been demonstrated that their Hilux makes an excellent Technical.

    1. Pigeon
      Happy

      Re: Using products for nefarious purposes

      Robot sharks. With roofrack brackets … Very nice

  12. zebm

    Don't know about MS itself but GitHub is woke

    Worked on a project to which GitHub had donated the time of a staff member. I put in the unit test system with the first test being called NoddyTest. There was quite a lot of toing and froing with the GitHub person and one other who was fine with everything. Eventually I got the response "but Enid Blyton".

    1. parperback parper

      Re: Don't know about MS itself but GitHub is woke

      To which you reply 'but Slade'.

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