Google employees in Switzerland wrote to the company’s vice president of human resources earlier this month, outlining their concerns that the new employee rating system could be used to cut the workforce.
In a letter, representatives of five workers and employees said, “The number and spread of reports that have reached us indicate that at least some managers have been pressured to aggressively enforce their quotas. ,” wrote about the process by which employees could get negative reviews and lose their jobs. , obtained by The New York Times.
The letter shows that some Google employees are increasingly interpreting recent management decisions as a warning that the company may be looking to implement more widespread layoffs. . From the imminent closure of small offices and the cancellation of content moderation projects, to various efforts to ease budgets during planning meetings in 2023, the Silicon Valley giant is giving 14 current and former employees According to an interview with , it has become a tinder of anxiety. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
In some cases, Google employees responded to a program the company launched in July aimed at simplifying operations, reducing bureaucracy and increasing productivity. In other instances, they were discussing budgets and some teams said they couldn’t hire more people next year. It is said that he is troubled by the fact that it has taken on a new meaning.
Concerns have mounted as Google’s tech industry peers handed out pink slips amid a deteriorating global economy. Last month, Facebook and Instagram owner Meta wiped out about 13% of its workforce, or 11,000 of her. Amazon also began laying off about 10,000 people in corporate and technology jobs, or about 3% of its corporate workforce.
Even Google, which is poised to make tens of billions of dollars in profits this year, has had to accept the slowdown. In October, when the digital advertising market was sluggish, Google’s parent company Alphabet reported third-quarter profit of $13.9 billion, down 27% from the same period last year.
Google declined to comment on employee concerns when contacted by The Times. Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said in October that the company would “focus on a clear set of products and business priorities.” He also said he would slow hiring and “moderate” cost growth.
The state of jobs in the United States
Economists have been surprised by recent strength in the labor market as the Federal Reserve (Fed) plots to slow the economy and curb inflation.
Unlike other big tech companies, Google has so far avoided large-scale layoffs. Evercore ISI analyst Mark Mahaney said investors are still pressuring the company to be more aggressive in “protecting” its huge profits.
“One of the most obvious ways to do that is to cut costs and reduce headcount,” he said. He added that it was “a bit strange” that Google’s parent company had hired 30,000 of his employees in the past three quarters, given the economic climate. At the end of September, Alphabet had 186,779 employees.
In recent months, Google seems to be paying more attention to costs. In July, we launched a program to streamline our operations. Shortly thereafter, it canceled several projects, including a Pixelbook laptop and Stadia, a video game streaming platform. We have also reduced funding for Area 120, our internal product incubator.
At a recent meeting, a Google human resources official told employees the company was reviewing the possibility of wide-ranging layoffs in the new year and that was Pichai’s decision, according to an audio recording obtained by The Times. .
Google has told other employees that it will prioritize cutting real estate spending, transportation costs and perks before pursuing layoffs, said a person familiar with the conversation, who asked not to be identified. It plans to close its small office in Farmington Hills, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan.
Project cancellations and reorganizations have raised tensions. In September, Google’s YouTube closed a project targeting his nearly 80 employees based in his Farmington Hills office, laying off some staff who couldn’t find new roles at the company. said four people familiar with the decision. YouTube hired them as contractors to manage content for its video platform. Google said 14 workers have lost their jobs.
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Google said it wasn’t looking to reduce its overall workforce size through this type of reorganization, and that some teams could drop roles as it reassessed its priorities. .
Some teams that have grown consistently in the past will not be able to hire more people next year, according to four people familiar with the situation. Managers are being asked to develop plans on how to handle 10 different budget scenarios, rather than three or four, one official said. During discussions about the plan, leaders pressured managers to justify the costs and asked if there were any workarounds or team reorganizations that could save costs, he said, two people familiar with the matter said. .
One of the biggest concerns for some employees is whether Google can use its new performance-review system to accelerate headcount reductions. In May, the company introduced a new system called his Googler Reviews and Development.
Under the system, managers expect the bottom 2% of employees to be classified as “not making enough impact,” according to two people familiar with the matter. Furthermore, he should be judged to have a “moderate impact” of 4%.
There are growing concerns that the bottom 6%, or about 11,000 workers, could be subject to layoffs, according to four people familiar with the matter.
The GRAD system means that Google now classifies employees it considers to be underperforming into two categories. This could result in a larger pool of junior employees compared to one of the older programs. According to the letter and his four employees, the rollout of the system has been bumpy, with managers and employees confused about how the system should work.
Google said it expects employees to become familiar with the system over time. He also added that they have a no-surprise policy. This means employees can know in advance if they are underperforming.
Before distributing the two lowest ratings, managers are also expected to notify employees at a “support check-in” meeting. Google said not all such meetings will result in a lower rating, and support check-ins will also be held for those who need extra assistance to meet their obligations.
Employees will also show signs of whether managers want them to participate in a “performance improvement” plan, the company said. gave the option of
Google said it has not changed to increase the number of performance plans and has offered this type of retirement option for years.
A letter from Google employees in Switzerland to VP of Human Resources Fiona Cicconi this month was led by members of the 15-member Works Council, ER-CH.
One of their main concerns, contrary to what some Google executives have said, is that there is a quota on the number of employees who were supposed to have support check-ins, which could make their jobs vulnerable. There was
Google said it does not impose quotas on support check-ins. However, when few people used these meetings after the GRAD system was introduced, it said it asked leaders to convey the importance of meetings to managers.
Swiss memo signatories also said there was confusion between managers and workers about who was eligible for support check-ins. I urged Mr. Cicconi.
“It’s normal for new processes to be bumpy at first, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of Googlers’ health, careers, and compensation,” they wrote.