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Facebook Boasts Youngest Workforce Among Top High-Tech Companies employees employees take a break to play pool at its headquarters in Palo Alto, California. Photographer: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

Facebook Inc. employees are the youngest and most satisfied, and yet the most stressed, among workers at big U.S. technology companies, a survey found.

Facebook had the lowest median age, 26, as well as the highest portion of female workers, 33 percent, among nine of the industry’s top businesses, according to PayScale Inc., a Seattle-based research firm. Employees at International Business Machines Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. were the oldest surveyed, with a median age of 44.

The social-networking site, run by the 27-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, has thrived by disrupting more-established technologies, such as Internet search and Web portals. That upstart spirit extends to its hiring policies, where workers aren’t judged by how many years they’ve spent in the business.

“We really don’t believe that you have to have a lot of experience to make a big difference,” Zuckerberg says in a video on the company’s career website. “Look at me, right? I started this from college.”

PayScale collected online surveys from employees at Inc., Apple Inc., Dell Inc., Facebook, Google Inc., Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. The results aren’t verified by the companies and aren’t a scientific sampling because they depend on individual workers submitting their data.

Apple’s median starting salary was $43,100, excluding the company’s retail employees, according to PayScale’s survey. That puts it at the bottom on the list. Microsoft was highest, with pay of $86,900.

Apple’s Designers

Even so, both pay a 15 percent premium over what workers would get elsewhere, said Al Lee, PayScale’s director of quantitative analysis. The difference may stem from the mix of jobs at each company, he said. The pay figures also don’t factor in stock options.

“Apple may have a bunch more designers and Web marketers on staff than some of the other companies, and that might pay less,” Lee said. The company also employs an in-house support staff to answer calls, unlike some big technology companies.

At Facebook, workers make about $59,100 to start, 49 percent more than the national average. They get a 13 percent premium over what employees would earn at similar positions at other companies, the survey found.

That extra pay comes with a dose of pressure, according to PayScale. Employees ranked highest in job satisfaction but also indicated their work was “highly stressful,” tying them with Amazon’s workers. The seven-year-old Palo Alto, California-based company is constantly innovating in an effort to stay on top of the social-networking field.

‘Be Bold’

In the video, Zuckerberg extols workers to “be bold,” because “what we’re trying to do is different than what everyone else has done before.”

As the economy rebounds, the biggest technology are having to work harder to retain talented employees, said Tom Silver, senior vice president of Dice Holdings Inc., a job-listing website. Resurgent demand for corporate technology, the shift to cloud computing and the rise of social media are all increasing the need for staff, he said.

“You’ve got more traditional companies that need to build and improve infrastructure, they’re putting their data in the cloud -- who knew what that was a few years ago?” Silver said. “The demand for tech talent is pretty extreme.”

In January, Google announced plans to give employees a 10 percent raise to retain talent. The company pays the highest premium -- 23 percent -- above what workers with similar roles at other companies are paid, according to the report.

Employee Perks

Google also is known for employee perks, including a gourmet cafeteria and on-site massages. Google was tops in mid-career median pay as well, at $141,000. Its employees ranked as the second-youngest behind Facebook, at 31.

“The most successful companies always pay the most, have the most benefits and the perks,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. “Google and Facebook are the stars.”

In terms of the pay premium, established technology companies didn’t fare as well. Hewlett-Packard, founded in 1939, pays its workers 5 percent less than the market average, PayScale found. Mid-career workers at the company also make the lowest median salary, $91,600.

IBM, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, pays its workers a 5 percent premium, putting it third from the bottom. Dell, which pays 4 percent above the market average, was second-lowest on the list.

“Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Dell are all successful companies, but they’re clearly running their business in a different way, in terms of the kind of talent they’re recruiting,” Lee said.

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