Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at the annual Google I/O Developer Conference in Mountain View, California on May 8, 2018.
Stephen Lam | Reuters
Google is launching a new initiative called “Simplicity Sprint” to boost efficiency and improve employee focus during an uncertain economic climate.
Alphabet The company held regular all-hands meetings last Wednesday, and the tone was somewhat insistent as employees raised concerns about layoffs and CEO Sundar Pichai asked employees to provide input, according to attendees and related internal documentation reviewed by CNBC. Google’s performance as a company is not up to par, even with its current headcount, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a meeting with employees.
“I wanted to give some extra context after our earnings results and also ask for your help,” Pichai began, referring to the company’s second-quarter earnings report on Tuesday. “It is clear that we are facing a challenging macro environment and there is more uncertainty ahead.”
He added: “There are real concerns that our overall productivity is not up to par for the number of staff we have.” He asked employees to help “create a culture that is more mission-driven, more focused on our products, more customer-focused. We need to think about how we can minimize distractions and really raise the bar for both product quality and productivity.”
It comes after the company informed its second straight quarter of weaker-than-expected earnings and earnings on Tuesday. Revenue growth slowed to 13% this quarter from 62% a year earlier as the company benefited from reopening from the pandemic and consumer spending surged. Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat said she expects some of the problems to continue in the near future, but the company is not giving official guidance.
This also happens after Pichai recently announced that it will slow the pace of hiring and investment until 2023 by asking employees to work “with more urgency” and “with more hunger” than shown on “sunnier days”.
“I would love to have all of your help,” Pichai said at an all-hands meeting on Wednesday, addressing his more than 170,000 full-time employees.
To this end, Pichai introduced the “Simplicity Sprint” initiative to crowdsource ideas for faster product development. “Sprint” is a term often used in software development and tech startups to refer to short, focused pushes towards a common goal.
Pichai said the company is giving employees the opportunity to share their ideas until August 15 through an internal survey that asks if management can get in touch if they have further questions.
It’s an attempt by the company to “get better results faster,” Pichai said during the meeting. The survey, which was reviewed by CNBC, shows it can also be used to cut back in certain areas.
Survey questions include: “What will help you work with greater clarity and efficiency to serve our users and customers?” Where should we remove speed bumps to get better results faster? How do we eliminate waste and stay entrepreneurial and focused as we grow?”
The request also comes as the company is trying to ease tensions between employees and executives after the annual Poll “Googlegeist” showed that employees gave the company especially bad marks pay, promotion and performance.
Highlighting the 7 percent drop in opinion about Google’s work, CEO Prabhakar Raghavan wrote at the time, “This means we need to pay more attention to fighting bureaucracy.” cartography and other areas.
In May the company announced it will overhaul its performance appraisal process, which will result in higher wages while hoping to reduce the bureaucracy associated with compensation and allowances.
At Wednesday’s general meeting, executives addressed employee concerns about potential layoffs. One of the most popular questions was: “In light of Sundar’s statement that Google’s sharpening focus means consolidating where investments overlap and streamlining processes, should we expect layoffs?”
Pichai referred the question to Google’s director of human resources, Fiona Cicconi.
While Cicconi said the company is still hiring and has no layoffs planned right now, she hasn’t ruled it out.
“We are asking teams to be more focused and efficient, and we are working on what that means for the company. While we can’t be sure about the economy going forward, we have no intention of cutting Google’s overall workforce at this time.”
She also said, “I do understand that there is some concern about this based on what we’re hearing from other companies and what they’re doing, and as Sundar mentioned, we’re still hiring for critical roles,” Cicconi said. . She asked employees to remember that this is still the biggest hiring year in the company’s history.
In the second quarter, Alphabet reported that its workforce increased 21% to 174,014 full-time employees from 144,056 a year earlier. However, the company said last month that slow hiring and investment pace through 2023, and CEO Sundar Pichai told employees in a memo: “We are not immune to economic headwinds.”
Pichai noted broader economic headwinds on several occasions. “If you look at what’s going on outside – I’m sure you all read the news – people at companies that use Google products are facing their own problems right now.”