Google employees criticize layoffs amid their CEO’s silence

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Last week, Google laid off hundreds of workers across multiple teams, totaling over a thousand job cuts. Officially, the company told multiple news outlets that some positions were eliminated to help teams work more efficiently together. But there was silence from one significant figure: Sundar Pichai, the chief executive officer of Google. While their company’s head has been quiet, Google employees have been outspoken. Following the cuts, Google employees criticized layoffs via posted messages in the company’s internal communication boards, as reported by The Verge.

“Thank you, our corporate overlords, for our new annual tradition,” one employee wrote. “Google culture changed dramatically last year with its first major round of layoffs,” said another.

The messages were posted in Memegen, the name for Google’s internal meme board used by employees. By “annual tradition,” the Google employees are referencing the pattern of layoffs within the company. Last year, nearly a year prior exactly to the latest round of cuts, Google laid off 12,000 employees. It was a big hit to the company and employee morale, and employee discontent has continued.

Google has continued to lay off smaller groups of employees since the 12,000 people were let go in January 2023. The most recent round of cuts, which affected Google’s AR, core engineering, and Assistant teams, represented about 0.5% of the company. It was part of a larger restructuring that saw the co-founders of Fitbit depart and hardware teams become more unified. However, the company’s claims that people needed to lose their jobs for Google to work more efficiently aren’t sitting well with employees.

Google employees are speaking out on layoffs

Notably, Pichai hasn’t made a public statement regarding the latest round of job cuts. More importantly, per reports, the CEO hasn’t even addressed the issue privately with employees. Laid-off workers have found out that their positions are being eliminated via bland emails, and other employees are following along with the rest of us in the media. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why Google employees are strongly criticizing the layoffs.

When pressed by employees, like at a recent all-hands meeting last month, Pichai was forced to open up. The Google and Alphabet leader called it a moment unlike any other the company has experienced in 25 years. “It became clear that if we didn’t act, it would have been a worse decision down the line,” Pichai said in the meeting, per Business Insider. “It would have been a major overhang for the company. I think it would have made it very difficult in a year like this with such a big shift in the world to create the capacity to invest in areas.”

Despite last year’s cuts, which Pichai described as necessary, it appears the layoffs are still ongoing. Google has well over 100,000 employees still working for the company, and these employees are watching layoffs occur without much explanation or support from Pichai. As experts argue, the employees deserve better from their top boss.

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