Google employees are scrambling for answers from leadership and colleagues as the company faces massive layoffs.
On Friday, letters– Owned by Google declared It cut 12,000 employees, about 6% of the full-time workforce. When the staff were there Bracing For one potential layoff, they questioned leadership about the criteria for layoffs, which surprised some employees who saw them cut off access to company assets. Some of the laid-off employees were longtime or recently promoted, raising questions about the criteria used to determine whose jobs were cut.
Shortly after CEO Sundar Pichai sent the first email to employees Friday morning, Google’s search boss Prabhakar Raghavan sent an email to employees asking them to save questions for next week’s town hall. There will be “bumps in the road” as the organization moves forward with layoffs, Raghavan noted.
Employees have complained that the company provided an FAQ for the layoffs, which CNBC saw, but many of the answers did not provide much detail. Employees have filled Dory, the company’s questioning platform, and set up virtual communities to find out who was fired and why. Directors are asking staff to take questions to next week’s town hall.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The struggle highlights the challenges Google faces in maintaining a supportive and productive company culture for its restless workforce of more than 160,000 full-time employees. Further clashes are possible as the company has said it plans to lay off international staff, but has not yet decided who.
So far in the US, employees have been laid off at business units including Chrome, Cloud and its test area of 120 units. Some employees working on the company’s artificial intelligence projects have also been laid off Bloomberg.
A list of the top-rated inquiries from employees seen by CNBC includes some pointed questions for executives.
“How were the layoffs decided? Some high performers were let go from our teams,” read one high-profile question. “This negatively affects the rest of Googlers who see someone with high recognition, positive reviews, a promo, but still gets fired.”
“What metrics were used to determine who was fired?” Another high quality question read. “Was the decision based on their performance, the scope of the work, or both, or something else?”
Another asked: “How much runway will we gain from the layoffs?” and “Will you explain clearly what the layoffs allow Google to do that it couldn’t have done without the layoffs?”
Another high-profile person questioned CEO Sundar Pichai’s statement, saying “I take full responsibility for the decisions that led us here.”
“What about taking full responsibility?” an employee asked Tori. “Accountability without consequence sounds like empty talk. Is leadership giving up bonuses and pay raises this year? Will anyone step down?”
Some employees even got together on their own and organized ad-hoc groups to get answers. Employees created a Google Docs spreadsheet as a way to track laid-off people and which businesses they worked for.
More than 5,000 laid-off employees have started a Discord channel called Google Post-Layoffs, with topics ranging from venting to labor organization and visa immigration. Some employees organized virtual Google meetings with people on video calls. Others tried to arrange physical meetings.
Some turned to the company’s internal memory generator to connect with each other, for answers, and for solace.
A flashback from the movie “Friends with Benefits” featured Mila Kunis. Kunis spoke with the Google logo: “The sad thing is, I thought you were weird.” Another memorial featured former President Bill Clinton gesturing the word “zero” under the heading “Leadership Pay.”
“The Alphabet leadership claims ‘full responsibility’ for the decision, but it is little comfort to the 12,000 workers who are now out of work,” Parul Koul, executive president of the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA, said in a statement on Friday. “This is egregious and unacceptable behavior by a company that made $17 billion in profits last quarter alone.