Amidst global recession fears, Google last week announced that it has decided to cut 12,000 jobs or 6 percent of the total workforce across departments and seniority levels.
On January 20, 2023, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., sent an email to all its employees that it will pay the fired employees in the United States during the notice period (minimum 60 days).
The search giant will also offer a severance package starting at 16 weeks’ salary plus two weeks of pay for each year they have worked at the company.
Further, the company will offer bonuses for the year 2022 as well as the remaining vacation time. Affected employees will get six months of healthcare, job placement services, and immigration support.
Pichai told the remaining employees that they could work from home that day to absorb the “difficult news”.
A serving engineer at Google, who worked for the company for more than 10 years and wished to remain anonymous, explained the scenario on the day when layoffs were announced to Business Insider.
Apparently, employees who survived the downsize cried during the meetings that day.
“Some of the folks were sobbing, they were drying their eyes,” in video conference calls that day, said the engineer for Google on the East Coast.
He said that the typical interactions at the office between the surviving staff on their well-being had changed with some even joking that they are alright, as they still have their jobs, while some people nodding to each other with a shared sense of understanding when they cross each other in the office.
“It’s not the typical nonverbal interaction there used to be before. Now it’s a meaningful nod,” the engineer said.
Another engineer on the West Coast who has worked at Google for more than 10 years and requested anonymity, said the surviving staff was “angry and sad” after the news.
“We truly did believe that Google was something different. This is just another big company. Now, anything that used to feel special or like you really were a part of a mission — not just a big money-making machine — that feeling is I think gone,” he said.
Both engineers mentioned that some of the existing employees were worried about further cuts.
The engineer from the East Coast also said some of the Google employees stayed at the company due to benefits and job security, which now have been gradually “stripped away” and layoffs mean that employees do not feel secure anymore.
“Now, what’s left of this company that sets it apart from any other company, any other employer that we associate with and offers good jobs?”, he added.
The engineers noted that some of the laid-off employees found out that they had lost their job through messages from their concerned colleagues, as their access to Google’s internal communication channels was cut off on January 20th.
The West Coast engineer also noted that the surviving staff was not informed about who was laid off. If they tried to contact them, they got a “cannot connect” message on the company’s internal communication system.
Nicholas Whitaker, who was part of the company’s people development team before being laid-off staff, told Insider that he received messages from his colleagues asking if he was okay, making him think that there had been a shooting or a natural disaster.
Several laid-off staff told Insider that they are receiving help from current and former staff, such as offers to share resumes. Whitaker said he was giving free meditation and mindfulness sessions.
“I miss my colleagues,” Jarrod Ahalt, a laid-off security engineer, told Insider. “We’ve been trying to support each other as best as we can.”