TSMC, the world’s largest and most valuable chip maker, is facing a culture clash as it tries to hire 4,500 new workers for its two new Arizona plants. The Taiwanese company’s harsh work culture, rigid standards, and months-long overseas training requirements are turning off current and prospective American employees, who are used to working with more accommodating and well-paying employers.
According to Fortune, TSMC’s U.S. operations have earned a 27% approval rating on Glassdoor from 91 reviews, meaning that less than a third of its reviewers would encourage others to work there. Intel, one of TSMC’s main rivals, has an 85% approval rating, albeit from tens of thousands more reviews.
Some of the complaints on Glassdoor include long hours, poor training, stress, and a militaristic atmosphere. “People… slept in the office for a month straight,” an engineer wrote. “Twelve-hour days are standard, weekend shifts are common. I cannot stress… how brutal the work-life balance is here.” Another engineer wrote: “TSMC is about obedience [and is] not ready for America.”
TSMC’s investment in the U.S. is part of the $52 billion CHIPS Act aimed at re-shoring the crucial semiconductor industry and competing with China. President Joe Biden deemed TSMC’s investment—one of the largest ever in the U.S. by a foreign company—a “game changer” that will shift critical chip supply chains back to the U.S. amid Washington’s high-stakes, a high-tech chips arms race with China.
But TSMC’s hiring ambitions have clashed with a U.S. semiconductor industry whose in-demand workers have bristled at TSMC’s tack. TSMC chairman Mark Liu said that U.S. employees do not have to follow the same standards as those in Taiwan and that people who enter the semiconductor industry should have a passion for the job rather than a desire for money.
Liu added that anyone unwilling to take shifts should not enter the semiconductor industry, and even then, they should only do so if they have a passion for the work rather than a desire for lucrative wages. He also suggested that American employees have it easier than those in Taiwan, where employees often do overtime to finish their workloads but are afraid to ask to be paid for it.
TSMC’s work culture may reflect its values and mission of being the world’s leading chip maker, but it may also affect its innovation and productivity in the long run. Moreover, TSMC chips made in America could cost 30% more than those manufactured in Taiwan due to the extra expenses associated with setting up chip factories in the U.S.
TSMC faces challenges not only in competing with China, but also in adapting to the U.S. market and culture. The company will need to find a balance between its own standards and expectations and those of its American workers and customers.
– TSMC’s extreme work culture is putting off US workers, CEO says employees should have passion for the job, TechSpot, Today
– TSMC Arizona job hiring hurt by ‘brutal’ culture, Fortune, June 3, 2023
– TSMC Exec Says Workers Unwilling to Take Shifts Should Not Enter Semiconductor Industry, Tom’s Hardware, June 8, 2023
– EETimes – TSMC’s Culture Clash at Arizona Fab, EETimes, January 3, 2022