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Google employees scramble for answers after layoffs hit long-tenured

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Google employees are scrambling for answers from leadership and from colleagues as the corporate undergoes a large layoff.

On Friday, Alphabet-owned Google announced it was cutting 12,000 employees, roughly 6% of the full-time workforce. While employees had been bracing for a possible layoff, they’re questioning leadership concerning the criteria for layoffs which surprised some employees, who woke up to search out their access to company properties cut off. A few of the laid-off employees had been long-tenured or recently promoted, raising questions on the standards used to choose whose jobs were cut.

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Shortly after CEO Sundar Pichai’s initial email to employees Friday morning, Google’s search boss Prabhakar Raghavan sent an email to employees saying he “also feels the responsibility to succeed in out” and asking for them to avoid wasting questions for next week’s town hall. There shall be “bumps within the road” because the organization moves forward with the layoffs, Raghavan noted.

The corporate provided an FAQ for the layoffs, which CNBC has seen, but employees have complained that it doesn’t give much detail on many answers. Employees have flooded Dory, the corporate’s question-asking platform, and arrange virtual communities to work out who’s been laid off and why. Directors have been telling employees to carry questions for the town hall happening next week.

Google didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

The scramble highlights the challenges Google could face in maintaining a supportive and productive company culture for its restive workforce of greater than 160,000 full-time employees. Further confrontations are possible, as the corporate said it plans to put off international employees but has yet to find out which of them.

Thus far within the U.S., employees have been laid off across business units including Chrome, Cloud, and its experimental Area 120 unit. Some employees working on the corporate’s artificial intelligence programs were also laid off, in line with Bloomberg.

A listing of top-rated inquiries from employees, viewed by CNBC, contained pointed questions for executives.

“How were the layoffs decided? Some high performers were let go from our teams,” one top-rated query read. “This negatively impacts the remaining Googlers who see someone with high recognition, positive reviews, promo but still getting laid off.”

“What metrics were used to find out who was laid off?” one other top-rated query read. “Was the choice based on their performance, scope of labor, or each, or something else?”

One other asked: “How much runway are we hoping to achieve with the layoffs?” and “Would you explain clearly what the layoff allows Google to try this Google couldn’t have kept away from layoffs?”

One other highly rated one questioned CEO Sundar Pichai’s statement, which said, “I take full responsibility for the choices that led us here.”

“What does taking full responsibility entail?,” one worker asked on Dory. “Responsibility without consequence looks as if an empty platitude. Is leadership forgoing bonuses and pay raises this 12 months? Will anyone be stepping down?”

Some employees got here together on their very own, organizing ad hoc groups to try to get answers. Employees created a Google doc spreadsheet as a approach to keep track of people that were laid off and which a part of the business they worked in.

Greater than 5,000 laid-off employees began a Discord channel called Google post-layoffs, ranging in topics from venting to labor organizing and visa immigration. Some employees organized virtual Google meetings with people on video calls. Others tried to arrange physical meet-ups.

Some turned to the corporate’s internal meme-generator as a way to attach with one another, for answers and for comfort. 

One meme showed Mila Kunis from the film “Friends with Advantages.” Kunis spoke to the Google logo, saying the road: “The sad thing is, I actually thought you were different.” One other meme showed former President Bill Clinton gesturing the word “zero” with the title “Leadership paycut.”

“Alphabet leadership claims ‘full responsibility’ for this decision, but that’s little comfort to the 12,000 employees who are actually without jobs,” said Parul Koul, executive chair of Alphabet Employees Union-CWA in an announcement Friday. “That is egregious and unacceptable behavior by an organization that made $17 billion dollars in profit last quarter alone.”

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