Google’s parent company Alphabet is one of the few big tech companies that hasn’t laid off employees this year. But that doesn’t help the employees feel secure.
Google employees are worried when the “storm of layoffs” sweeps through many tech giants
Google employees are increasingly worried about the storm of layoffs that will affect the company, while other technology companies such as Amazon, Twitter and Meta are cutting tens of thousands of jobs. A more rigorous performance appraisal system also makes Googlers less confident about the jobs they have.
An employee told Insider on November 15: “The management has not ruled out the possibility of layoffs, but they have not given any indication that it will happen.”
CEO Sundar Pichai earlier this year said the company would act more cautiously. Some of the internet giant’s recruiting departments have slowed down hiring as a recession looms.
However, when parent company Alphabet released results at the end of October, the report said the company added 12,765 new employees in the third quarter. This shocked investors, as they predicted that number staff will decrease. From late 2018 to early 2022, the company employed nearly 100,000 full-time employees, nearly double its existing workforce.
Active investor TCI Fund Management wrote a letter to Google with the content: “The company has too many employees and the cost per employee is too high.” The investor, who owns $6 billion worth of Alphabet stock, called on the company to take aggressive action to cut costs.
During the pandemic, when people had to isolate at home and switched to work and entertainment online, the technology giants recruited a huge number of employees. Now, that hiring craze has died down and many companies are making adjustments.
Amazon is laying off 10,000 employees. Meta also recently cut 11,000 employees and Twitter also cut more than 8,000 jobs. The only big tech companies that didn’t make layoffs were Google and Apple. Meanwhile, year-to-date, Apple has outperformed Google in both profit and share performance. Therefore, only Google is the exception in the “storm” of layoffs.
“A lot of people are clearly worried” said one Google employee. The person further noted that Google employees are posting memes in internal groups to express their insecurities. The employee, along with several others, spoke to Insider and requested anonymity when discussing sensitive matters.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment.
“At the moment, our billionaire bosses put employees in a competitive position that feels like a game of survival for jobs” said Google technologist Jenny Rosewood and member of the Association of Googlers work exhausted for fear of termination of the contract. They also arbitrarily fired thousands of our colleagues and friends.”
Yesterday, two employees said there was an internal disconnection and worried employees thought they were fired. A senior Google employee said he hasn’t heard of any layoffs yet, but everyone at the company is worried.
Google is currently planning for 2023 and is expected to see growth in headcount. But for now, this person said the number of employees next year will not change.
One particular reason for employee anxiety is that Google could use its more rigorous performance review plans as a way to quietly cut headcount.
As part of a new employee review system that was updated earlier this year, managers in some departments are under pressure to hit a certain number of “support applicants”. According to sources familiar with the matter, this is a way for managers to support underperforming employees. These check-ins are required before management classifies an employee as the least effective.
‘Google leaders will want to cut staff’
Large-scale layoffs are unprecedented at Google. While the company has laid off a number of individual teams in the past, it has always tried to avoid major cuts.
With a good reputation from recruiting staff to not mass firing, Google has turned into a magnet for top talent. But the large-scale layoffs may concern some company leaders.
A former Google executive, who was on the leadership team with co-founder Larry Page, said that recently Google has become slower with many cumbersome departments. This person said that firing employees would really benefit the company.
Another former Google executive said: “Google leaders will want to cut staff. The goal is to clean up the culture in a way that scares people a little bit more.”
Unlike Meta and Amazon, Google seems to be just adapting to a post-pandemic economy. Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat said in a recent Alphabet call that hiring will slow markedly in 2023.
In recent weeks, the company has cut several teams, including projects in the Area 120 group. Google also shut down its game service Stadia and gave employees time to find other positions within the company.
According to sources, although Google continues to hire in some areas such as the Cloud division, the rate of hiring will slow down or pause in many others.
One senior employee said: “Google has invested through the last recession cycle and has grown stronger as a result. So they look forward to doing it again responsibly.”
According to BI