Meta and Google Cut Staff Through Quiet Layoffs • The Register

Forget the quiet ending. Meta and Google have learned the art of the silent dismissal: directing employees to seek new roles after teams reorganize or disband, and allow time for the reapply process to expire until some are unemployed.

It’s still essentially a layoff, albeit small, although less likely to draw attention or be widely reported. It’s comparable to IBM, Oracle and other companies in the past, which have made small, incremental cuts here and there to fly a broader layoff plan under the radar. It can also herald a major downsizing at some point.

Issues at Meta are known, with the Facebook parent encountering a dip this year revenue and daily active users at one point while admitting that it’s burned off $10 billion on Metaverse stuff and that it is ad sales have been severely damaged by Apple’s push to allow iOS users to opt out of online tracking. The company also skyrocketed during the pandemic, arguably becoming bloated and unwieldy.

In response, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg urged his mega-corporation to shape up, turn up the heat and shed the dead weight, leading to things like this resolution of its Responsible Innovation Team (RIT) earlier this month.

That’s where these silent layoffs come in.

Meta’s policy is to give employees – like those at RIT – 30 days to find a new job at the company, after which they’re out of a job if they somehow don’t secure a spot. Since places like Meta typically set a relatively high hiring bar, the assumption is that staff are smart enough to stay and will find another team somewhere.

According to Meta employees and executives who spoke to The Wall Street Journal a report Today, this process is fairly typical—but something has changed: where it used to be the norm to quickly slip into a new role, “workers with good reputations and strong performance reviews are routinely squeezed out.”

Where Meta’s line-up changes used to happen without people losing their jobs, now they’re being kicked out drop by drop. It is reported that Facebook wants to cut costs by at least 10 percent, which means fewer jobs.

over at google, about half The 100-plus employees at startup incubator Area 120 had 90 days this month to find other jobs within the mega-corporation. In March, there was also internal pressure to give more than 100 people facing Google Cloud hacking 180 days to find new teams, rather than 60. As with Meta, Googlers are expected to find other teams to hack into can join.

A Google spokesman told the WSJ that nearly 95 percent of workers who expressed an interest in staying found a new job in time. Or to put it another way: More than five percent did not do it and were deleted. No doubt other sections of the workforce are being or have been trimmed in this way.

The cuts at Google come not long after CEO Sundar Pichai said productivity needs to be at the web giant increased by twenty percenta call that came just three months after it was founded slowed down setting after a recruitment spree during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the WSJ story, Meta had 83,553 employees at the end of the second quarter of 2022, up 32 percent from the same point last year. Google’s parent Alphabet had 174,014 employees in the second quarter, up 20.8 percent from the same period in 2021. Now both companies appear to be struggling to deal with, or get the best of, these new people.

Google’s CFO said earlier this year that headcount is the primary cost driver for the company and leadership at Facebook and elsewhere have made similar statements. Chief Financial Officer of Amazon said that a first-quarter hiring spurt amid the Omicron phase of the coronavirus outbreak had meant his company was also overstaffed.

Meta seemed to take a different approach to layoffs when Zuckerberg directed managers in June exit aggressively underperforming employees. As we wrote at the time, this may have been a way for Meta to push through some layoffs without actually admitting it, drawing bad press and other negative attention.

This time around, it looks like Google and Meta have learned a lesson: don’t dump people and foment rumors of layoffs or post statements saying so. Instead, just merge teams and close them, tell the press you’re reassigning employees, shrug when transferred employees ask about those roles, and have them exit the system a few months later. ® Meta and Google Cut Staff Through Quiet Layoffs • The Register

Laura Coffey

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