Employees are constantly under surveillance at Bridgewater, the world's biggest hedge fund.

  • Though billionaire Ray Dalio avoids bringing cameras into his hedge fund Bridgewater, the American TV programme "60 Minutes" got an exclusive look into the group's day-to-day operations.
  • Here's what it's like to work at Bridgewater, where workers are considered "intellectual Navy SEALs" and nearly one-third of new employees quit after a year.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.co.za for more stories.

Many employees fear criticising their peers and managers to their face - but at Bridgewater, the world's largest hedge fund, you could get fired if you don't.

Bridgewater Associates, run by billionaire Ray Dalio, has a well documented culture of "radical transparency," where employees routinely judge each other's performance. The corporate culture isn't for the faint of heart - Dalio says about 30% of new employees leave the firm within their first 18 months.

Dalio even says the Westport, Connecticut-based hedge fund has a reputation for being the "intellectual Navy SEALs" for its approach to pushing employees.

While Dalio says he avoids lengthy interviews and bringing cameras into his company, CBS' "60 Minutes" journalist Bill Whitaker got an exclusive view into the day-to-day operations at Bridgewater.

Here's an inside look at what it's like to work Bridgewater:

Billionaire Ray Dalio runs Bridgewater, the top-performing hedge fund of all time based on returns since inception.

Source: MarketWatch

Dalio says his organisation carries the nickname the 'intellectual Navy SEALS,' and that 30% of new hires leave within the first 18 months.

Source: CBS

Dalio avoided public interviews inside Bridgewater, but CBS' '60 Minutes' got an exclusive look into what it's like to work there.

Source: CBS

The hedge fund is located in the woods of Westport, Connecticut, between two fishing rivers.

Source: CBS

Employees don't follow day-to-day market trends. Instead, they quietly study policy and history to find patterns that could help predict winning investments.

Employees on Glassdoor say they work 10 hour days, and admit to not having any work-life balance.

Source: CBS, Glassdoor

One of Dalio's biggest principles for running his company is "radical transparency." Employees cannot talk behind each other's backs — and doing so three times results in firing.

"Criticism is welcomed and encouraged at Bridgewater, but there is never a good reason to bad-mouth people behind their backs," Dalio wrote on Twitter. "It is counterproductive and shows a serious lack of integrity and it subverts both the person being bad-mouthed and the environment as a whole."

Source: CBS, Twitter

Instead, employees constantly judge and give employees "grades" during meetings. The employees receive feedback in real time about the quality of their analysis, whether the presentation of findings was clear enough, and more.

Employees use proprietary iPad apps to rate each other's performance, Business Insider's Richard Feloni reported in 2016. Average scores for these traits are listed on "baseball cards" for each employee.

Source: CBS

Meetings are also recorded and scrutinised. An employee told The New York Times that new staff once watched a video of Dalio challenging a manager to the point of tears.

CBS 60 Minutes Bill Whitaker said a "Big Brother" vibe existed at the company, and described it as "creepy."

Source: CBS, The New York Times

Dalio also isn't afraid to fire an underperforming employee. He bluntly refers to this principle as "Shoot people you love."

Employees once told The New York Times Dalio fired an employee in a company-wide email for not completing a homework assignment. Dalio later said the episode was a joke, and the employee was not fired, according to The Times.

Source: CBS, The New York Times

"At the end of the day, people have got to have two things," Dalio said. "They’ve got to have great character and they’ve got to have great capability to make a great organisation. What that means is, there are times you have to let someone you love go."

Source: CBS

Dalio also believes in paying for the person, not the job. Titles do not have specified salaries, and he does not keep employees within the confines of a job description.

Investment Associates make around $100,000 (R1.4 million) in base pay, and analysts earn about $81,000 (R1.1 million), according to Glassdoor.

Source: CBS, Glassdoor

Whitaker said while he didn't know if you need thick skin to work at Bridgewater, you certainly "can't have a thin skin to go through that."

Source: CBS

Yet while Whitaker expected employees to constantly be afraid and on edge due to the surveillance, he found most employees value the criticism and see it as a way to improve at their careers.

Source: CBS

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