Productivity and focus need to improve

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks on stage during the Google I/O annual developer conference in Mountain View, California, May 8, 2018.

stephen | Reuters

Google is launching a new effort called “Simplicity Sprint” in an effort to improve efficiency and improve employee focus in an uncertain economic environment.

The Alphabet company had its regular hands last Wednesday, and the tone was somewhat urgent as employees expressed concern over the layoffs and CEO Sundar Pichai asked employees for their input, according to attendees and related internal documentation. viewed by CNBC. Google’s productivity as a business isn’t where it should be, even with the workforce it has, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees at the meeting.

“I wanted to provide some additional context following our results and also ask for your assistance,” Pichai opened, referring to the company’s second-quarter earnings report on Tuesday. “Clearly we face a challenging macroeconomic environment with more uncertainty ahead.”

He added: “There are real concerns that our productivity as a whole is not where it should be for the workforce we have.” He asked employees to help “create a more mission-driven, more product-driven, more customer-driven culture. We should think about how we can minimize distractions and really raise the bar when it comes to of product excellence and productivity”.

It comes after the company reported its second consecutive quarter of weaker-than-expected profits and revenue on Tuesday. Revenue growth slowed to 13% in the quarter from 62% a year earlier, when the company was benefiting from the post-pandemic reopening and consumer spending was up. Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat said she expects some of the challenges to continue in the near term, but the company is not giving formal guidance.

It also comes after Pichai recently announced that it would slow the pace of hiring and investment until 2023, asking employees to work “with greater urgency” and “more hunger” than indicated “the sunnier days”.

‘Sprint of simplicity’

“I would love to get all of your help,” Pichai said at Wednesday’s town hall, addressing his more than 170,000 full-time employees.

To this end, Pichai launched a “Simplicity Sprint” initiative to gather ideas for faster product development. “Sprint” is a term often used in software development and by tech startups to refer to short, focused pushes toward a common goal.

Pichai said the company is opening the door for employees to share their ideas through Aug. 15 through an internal survey that asks if management can reach out if they have follow-up questions.

It’s an attempt for the company “to get better results faster,” Pichai said during the meeting. The survey, which was viewed by CNBC, shows it can also be used to cut back in certain areas.

Survey questions include “What would help you work more clearly and effectively to serve our users and customers?” Where should we remove speed bumps to get better results faster? How do we eliminate waste and stay enterprising and focused as we grow? »

The request also comes as the company attempts to ease tensions between employees and executives after an annual “Googlegeist” survey showed employees gave the company particularly poor ratings on pay, promotions and enforcement.

Pointing to a 7% drop in views on Google’s execution, executive Prabhakar Raghavan wrote at the time “it means we need to pay more attention to cutting red tape.” cartography and other fields.

In May, the company announced that it would overhaul its performance appraisal process, which would lead to higher salaries while hoping to reduce bureaucracy around pay and raises.

“A Bit of Anxiety”

At Wednesday’s town hall meeting, executives addressed employee concerns about potential layoffs. One of the top-rated questions was “In light of Sundar’s statement that refining Google’s direction ‘means consolidating where investments overlap and streamlining processes,’ should we expect layoffs?” “

Pichai turned the question over to Google’s director of human resources, Fiona Cicconi.

Although Cicconi said the company is still hiring and has no plans for layoffs at this time, she did not rule it out.

“We’re asking teams to be more focused and efficient and we’re also thinking about what that means as a business. While we can’t be sure about the future economy, we are not currently looking to reduce Google’s overall workforce.”

She also said: “I really understand that there is some anxiety about this due to what we hear from other companies and what they are doing and as Sundar mentioned we are still hiring. for critical positions,” Cicconi said. She asked employees to remember that this is still the biggest hiring year in company history.

In the second quarter, Alphabet said its workforce grew 21% to 174,014 full-time employees from 144,056 a year earlier. However, the company said last month it would slow the pace of hiring and investment through 2023, and CEO Sundar Pichai told employees in a memo: “We are not immune to economic headwinds”.

Pichai repeatedly noted the broader economic headwinds. “If you look outside — I’m sure you read all the news — employees of companies that use Google products are facing their own challenges right now.”

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