Google launches new program called Simplicity Sprint to boost efficiency and improve employee focus in uncertain economic environment, reports CNBC.
Alphabet reportedly held a regular meeting with employees last Wednesday, and the meeting took on a somewhat urgent tone as company employees expressed concern about the layoffs. At the same time, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees that the company’s productivity is not what it should be, even with the available number of employees.
“I wanted to give some additional context following our earnings results, and ask for your help as well,” Pichai began, referring to the company’s Q2 earnings report. “It’s clear we are facing a challenging macro environment with more uncertainty ahead.”
He added: “There are real concerns that our productivity as a whole is not where it needs to be for the headcount we have.” He asked employees to help “create a culture that is more mission-focused, more focused on our products, more customer focused. We should think about how we can minimize distractions and really raise the bar on both product excellence and productivity.”
That comes after the company reported a second straight quarter of worse-than-expected earnings and revenue on Tuesday. Revenue growth slowed to 13% in the quarter from 62% a year earlier as the company benefited from the post-pandemic recovery and consumer spending picked up. CFO Ruth Porath said she expects some issues to remain in the near-term, but the company is not giving formal guidance.
This also comes after Pichai recently announced that will slow the pace of hiring and investment until 2023, asking employees to work “faster” and “hungrier” than needed “on sunny days.”
“I would love to get all your help,” Pichai said to more than 170,000 full-time employees.
To that end, Pichai introduced the Simplicity Sprint initiative to crowdsource ideas for faster product development. “Sprint” is a term often used in software development and technology startups to refer to short, focused pushes toward a common goal.
Pichai said the company expects employees to share their ideas by August 15 through an internal survey.
It’s an effort for the company to “get better results faster,” Pichai said during the meeting. A survey obtained by CNBC shows that it could also be used for cuts in certain areas.
Questions in the survey include: “What would help you work with greater clarity and efficiency to serve our users and customers? Where should we remove speed bumps to get to better results faster? How do we eliminate waste and stay entrepreneurial and focused as we grow?”
The employee survey also came in handy as the company tries to ease tensions between workers and managers after the annual Googlegeist survey found that employees gave the company particularly poor marks on pay, promotion, and management.
The company announced in May that it would overhaul its performance evaluation process, which would lead to pay increases, while hoping to cut red tape around compensation and promotions.
At the general meeting, managers also discussed employee concerns about possible layoffs. One of the most popular questions was: “In light of Sundar’s statement that sharpening Google’s focus ‘means consolidating where investments overlap and streamlining processes,’ should we expect layoffs?”
Pichai referred questions to Google HR director Fiona Cicconi. While Cicconi said the company is still hiring and doesn’t have plans for layoffs right now, she didn’t rule it out.
In the second quarter, Alphabet reported a 21% increase in its full-time workforce to 174,014 full-time employees, compared to 144,056 a year earlier. However, the company said last month it would slow the pace of hiring and investment through 2023, with CEO Sundar Pichai telling employees in a memo: “We are not immune to economic headwinds.”