Concern Grows Among Google Workers Amid Plans to Reduce Expenses


Concern Grows Among Google Workers Amid Plans to Reduce Expenses; concerned that a new employee rating system could be used to reduce labor-intensive, Google employees in Switzerland wrote a letter to the company’s vice president of human resources this month.

The letter, written by five workers and employee representatives, was obtained by The New York Times and stated, “The number and spread of reports that have reached us indicate that at least some managers have been aggressively pressured to enforce a quota.” This process could result in employees receiving negative ratings and, in extreme cases, losing their jobs.

As the letter explained, some Google workers have seen management’s actions as omens that the business is contemplating broader layoffs. According to interviews with 14 current and former employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, the Silicon Valley giant has become a powder keg of anxiety due to the impending closure of a small office and the cancellation of a content moderation project, as well as various efforts to ease budgets during 2023 planning meetings.

Some Google employees have already taken advantage of a program the company introduced in July to improve efficiency, reduce bureaucracy, and boost output. It has been reported that specific teams have had budget discussions and would only be able to add to their rosters in the upcoming year. Employees were also concerned about decisions made months ago but now have a different significance.

Read more: The Fed Has Given Up On A Big Worker Rebound Due To Retirees.

Concerns increased as Google’s competitors in the tech industry began laying off workers as the global economy continued to slide. Last month, Facebook and Instagram owner Meta cut 11,000 jobs or around 13% of their staff. About ten thousand business and technology workers at Amazon have been let go, or about three percent of the workforce.

Even Google, expected to earn tens of billions of dollars this year, has had to weather a recession. Alphabet, Google’s parent firm, reported a 27% drop in third-quarter profits to $13.9 billion after the digital advertising market collapsed in October.

Google did not respond to The Times’s request for comment on the issue of employee unease. CEO Sundar Pichai stated in October that the company would “concentrate on a defined set of product and commercial priorities.” The slowdown in hiring and “moderated” increase in spending was also mentioned.

The state of jobs in the United States.

To economists’ surprise, the labor market has been holding its own despite the Federal Reserve’s efforts to slow the economy and rein in inflation.

Google still needs to implement widespread layoffs compared to many other large tech firms. However, according to Evercore ISI analyst Mark Mahaney, shareholders have pressured the company to “defend” its massive earnings.

Cutting expenses and staff is “one of the most obvious ways to do this,” he said. He went on to say that, given the current state of the economy, it was “a little strange” that Google’s parent company had hired 30,000 people in the preceding three quarters. Ending September with 186,779 employees was a record for Alphabet.

Recent months have shown a heightened focus on price by Google. The program to streamline operations began in July. Soon after, it scrapped several initiatives, including the Pixelbook laptop and the Stadia gaming streaming platform. Area 120, the company’s internal product incubator, also slashed its budget.

According to a recording obtained by The Times, a Google human resources representative recently told an employee that Mr. Pichai had ordered the company to reconsider the possibility of broader layoffs in the new year.

According to a source familiar with the matter, Google has informed other employees that it will prioritize cutting property spending, travel costs, and benefits before making layoffs. This source spoke on the condition of anonymity because the discussions were private. The small office in Farmington Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, will be shut down by the company next month.

Anxiety levels have risen as a result of project delays and restructuring. According to four sources familiar with the situation, in September, Google’s YouTube shut down a project based in the Farmington Hills office with nearly 80 employees, resulting in the layoff of some employees who had yet to find new roles within the company. Decision. They were independent contractors for YouTube and were responsible for policing the site for offensive or otherwise problematic material. The search giant revealed that 14 employees had been laid off.

The factors we weigh before relying on anonymous tips. Is the information accurate, and do the sources know it? If they are telling us, why do they care? Did they succeed in the past, or is this their first try? Can we verify these claims? The Times still resorts to anonymous sources even after addressing those concerns. At this point, the journalist and at least one editor know who the source is.

Google has stated that it has no intention of reducing the size of its workforce due to these reorganizations but that some teams may eliminate roles due to the company reevaluating its priorities.

According to four sources with knowledge of the matter, some teams that have experienced consistent growth in the past will not be able to add new employees next year. One source noted an increase in 2023 planning requirements, including the need for a manager to create strategies for ten distinct budgetary scenarios. According to two sources, executives asked managers to provide justifications for their spending during planning discussions and reportedly probed for alternative solutions and suggested team reorganizations to cut costs.

Some Google workers were worried that the company would use its new performance review system as an excuse to lay off more people than necessary. The new system, Google Reviews and Development was implemented in May.

According to two sources, the lowest performing two percent of workers will be labeled as “not enough impact” under the new system. The remaining 4% should be categorized as “moderately significant.”

According to four sources and as previously reported by technology news outlet The Information, there is growing concern that the bottom 6%, or roughly 11,000 people, could be targeted for layoff.

The GRAD system may result in a more significant number of employees at Google’s lowest tier than under the previous system, which only had one category for those who consistently performed poorly. According to the letter and the four workers, the system’s rollout was rocky, and both managers and employees needed clarification about how it was supposed to function.

Google has stated that it anticipates a gradual increase in system familiarity on the part of its staff. He also said that he had a “no surprises” policy so that workers would know about any performance issues ahead of time.

Managers must also inform staff during “attendance check” meetings before delivering the two lowest ratings. Google said that not all sessions will result in a lower rating and that support check-ins will be held for those who need extra help with their responsibilities.

The company also promised to provide employees with direction if their manager wanted to place them on a “performance improvement” plan, which requires employees to show improvement in their work within 60 days or be terminated. Google offered its workers the option of either staying on a performance improvement plan or resigning with a buyout.

According to Google, it has always provided such baseline choices and has made no adjustments to increase the number of performance plans.

Members of a 15-person employee representation committee, ER-CH, spearheaded this month’s letter from some Google employees in Switzerland to Fiona Cicconi, vice president of human resources.

They were apprehensive that the company might have a limit on the number of workers who were required to have support recordings, putting their jobs at risk despite what some Google executives have claimed.

According to Google’s policy, there is no limit on the number of tickets in the support system. However, he said that only a few people attended those meetings after the GRAD system was implemented, so he asked executives to stress the significance of meetings to their subordinates.

Swiss signatories to the memo also reported that there needed to be more clarity amongst managers and employees as to who was eligible for a supported recording. They urged Ms. Cicconi to take precautions to ensure that the system would not result in widespread layoffs.

Even though “it’s normal that new processes don’t work well at first,” they wrote, “that shouldn’t come at the expense of Googlers’ well-being, careers, and compensation.”