Mass layoffs are bad for PR, and Silicon Valley knows it. But, last week, Google told employees it plans to cut its Area 120 research division’s projects in half. And, Meta has announced it would defer extending full-time job offers to this year’s summer interns to take more time to assess its “hiring needs.” With escalating competition, slowing growth and stock prices slumping, how are these massive companies going to avoid a plague of layoffs?
Well, it doesn’t look like either plans to keep all their employees on. But, both Google and Meta are using an interesting strategy. Rather than lay off a huge chunk of employees, they’re offering time for them to apply for other internal jobs. Then, if they fail to secure a new role, it’s time to go. For Meta, some workers are given 30 days to job hunt, while Google gives its employees 60 to 90 days. While these campaigns will result in employment cuts, they seem a bit less disruptive than just carving up a block of the workforce. But, the broad downsizing and internal moves to cut full-time employee positions to contract and temp roles have left a sour taste in many employees’ mouths.
“Our plan is to steadily reduce headcount growth over the next year,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in July. “Many teams are going to shrink so we can shift energy to other areas, and I expect us to get more done with fewer resources.”
“We continue to look for ways we can increase our productivity and ensure we’re focused on our long-term priorities,” a Google representative said.
“Google wants to keep its reputation for treating its workers well but doesn’t want to pay for it, so it is turning employee roles into contract work, stripping workers of the quality working conditions they deserve,” said David Newgas of the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA and Program Manager at Google.
“We have been an essential part of Google Cloud’s function by improving user experience and growing customer trust with Google Cloud products. To be informed that our jobs are on the line while Google spends billions on another acquisition shows a complete disregard for the workers who have been essential to Google Cloud’s success,” said an anonymous employee.