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Tesla and SpaceX standout in tech employee survey for the most stressful and lowest paying jobs, but also most meaningful

HAWTHORNE-CA-MAY 29: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveils the company's new manned spacecraft, The Dragon V2, designed to carry astronauts into space during a news conference on May 29, 2014, in Hawthorne, California. The private spaceflight company has been flying unmanned capsules to the Space Station delivering cargo for the past two years. The Dragon V2 manned spacecraft will ferry up to seven astronauts to low-Earth orbit. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

A company is only as good as its employees and a new PayScale survey gives us an interesting look into the employee demographic of some of the top tech employers. Elon Musk’s Tesla and SpaceX particularly standout in the survey for ranking at the bottom for their bellow average salaries and at the top for most stressful environments, but also and maybe more importantly, at the top for being the two most meaningful places to work out of the 18 tech firms listed in the survey.

Considering these companies are in a very different fields, to a certain level, it attests to how Musk builds his firms and how they manage to attract top talent, not with money, but with a sense of purpose. At Tesla, employees rally behind what they call the “rEVolution” to accelerate the advent of electric vehicles, and ultimately to help curb carbon emissions.

While at SpaceX, employees are of course inspired by the long-term goal to colonize Mars and make humanity a multi-planetary species, but also the frequent rocket launches, which are quickly becoming a monthly event, are very successful in creating team spirit.

PayScale tried to translate this meaningfulness into numbers, which resulted in SpaceX and Tesla coming in first and second for “high job meaning” with scores of 92% and 89% respectively. Far more than the third place, Facebook, with 78%:Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 4.45.42 PM

For the employee satisfaction factor, Facebook took the first place with a surprising 96% score, while Tesla and SpaceX are in the middle of the pack with 70% and 73% respectively.

It is particularly interesting that Tesla and SpaceX are always following each other closely regardless of under which metric you choose to compare the companies. Of course, some metrics are more flattering than others, but Steve Jurvetson, an investor and board member at both Tesla and SpaceX, was particularly happy about the “meaningful” factor which he called the “root of success”:

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The two companies are also ranking at the top for most stressful jobs, although SpaceX is in a class of its own here with 88%, while Tesla takes the second place with 70%. The stress related with rocket launches and the environment regulated by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) are likely important factors here.

Also, the percentage of female employees at both Tesla and SpaceX is disproportionally low with 20% and 14% respectively. While the median age is also lower than the average though closer to the pack with 29 for SpaceX and 30 for Tesla.

One of the most important differentiator is the median pay, which is significantly lower at both companies. CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to argue that his companies compensations are “same or better than other companies” and argued that manufacturing and sales are lowering the median:

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Musk might be right about manufacturing since Tesla and SpaceX certainly manufacture more products in-house and employ more production associates and technicians than a Facebook or Google for example, but the retail and sales argument doesn’t apply here since PayScale didn’t include any sales or retail employee in its survey according to its methodology.

It is also important to note that the median pay is based on ‘Total Cash Compensation’ (TCC), which combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, and other forms of cash earnings, but does not include stock compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or value of other non-cash benefits like healthcare.

PayScale’s report is based on data obtained from 33,500 workers in the tech industry who took the PayScale Salary Survey in the last two years.

Featured image: HAWTHORNE-CA-MAY 29: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveils the Dragon V2 – Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

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  1. I would also accept low pay and long hours to work at either of those companies. You mean I could potentially be helping to usher in a new era of self-driving electric vehicles or sending humans to mars? Hell yes I want to do that more than writing a shitty app or being a social media expert.

    • MrMichaelWill - 7 years ago

      The ‘lowest paying’ is actually an addition to the original story that is not really true if you count in the TSLA shares you get as part of your compensation.


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