Disgruntled Google employees have put senior executives on the hot seat a couple of times this year.
Most recently, they questioned CEO Sundar Pichai in an all-hands meeting this week about the company’s spending cuts amid a challenging economic climate. CNBC reported for the first time.
At the meeting, employees submitted questions through an internal Google tool, and their peers upvoted popular questions for executives to answer.
When asked why the company is limiting certain budgets, such as travel and entertainment, Pichai pointed to the possibility of a looming recession. “How do I say it?” he said “We’re being a little more responsible through one of the toughest macroeconomic conditions in the last decade.”
Pichai’s remarks follow two quarters of weaker-than-expected growth for Google’s parent company, Alphabet, as the tech giant adjusts to the post-pandemic economy. “We can’t always choose macroeconomic conditions,” Pichai said.
Inflation currently stands at 8.3%, and the Federal Reserve is committed to continuing to raise interest rates to bring it down, even if it triggers a recession in the process.
During the meeting, other employees pointed to remarks Pichai made earlier this month about aiming to increase productivity by 20% at the company.
Pichai sought clarity in his response, highlighting plans to slow future hiring. “Maybe you planned to hire six more people, but you might have to deal with four and how are you going to do that?” he said “The answers will be different with different teams.”
He also noted that the company hopes to streamline some of its operations. “Sometimes we have a product launch process, which probably, over many years, has become more complicated than perhaps it should be,” he said, noting that his 20% target could be achieved by removing those complications . “At our scale, there’s no way to solve this unless teams of all sizes work better.”
During the meeting, Pichai also addressed the idea that reducing certain perks shouldn’t mean a change in company culture. “I remember when Google was small and scrappy,” he said. “We don’t always have to equate fun with money.”
Earlier this year, Pichai and other executives fielded questions from employees during a separate all-hands meeting that focused on the results of its annual “Googlegeist” survey, which revealed employee dissatisfaction with compensation. At the time, they defended Google’s compensation but said they would monitor growing employee dissatisfaction over the matter.
“This trend, we’re concerned about and we’re watching it closely,” responded the company’s vice president of compensation, Brett Hill.
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