Tech Layoff Methods Add Insult to Injury for Those Let Go

Terminated workers up in arms over e-mail notices and abrupt loss of company network access.

January 26, 2023

3 Min Read
Google CEO Sundar Pichai followed through on his warning that the company would lay off workers, but the manner in which the layoffs were conducted shocked and angered those affected. Image courtesy of Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Tech companies have in recent years become destinations for talented, often younger workers seeking to make their way up in the fast-changing world of technology. Besides offering lucrative pay, companies such as Meta, Google, Amazon, and other firms presented workers with a generous array of perks, such as on-site fitness facilities, all day dining, massages, liberal parental leave policies, and other incentives that kept ambitious workers often lingering at their desks well beyond normal working hours.

Fast forward to 2023, and these once-lauded workplaces are starting to lose their appeal. Disappointing earnings and soaring costs due to rapid expansion have forced many of the same companies to engage in mass layoffs that up to now have been unheard of among younger tech companies. To add insult to injury, companies once praised for employee-friendly policies have drawn the ire of their terminated workers for their termination methods.

Google, which last week cut 12,000 jobs, or 6% of their workforce, is the latest to engage in what might be viewed as rather callous employee termination tactics. According to numerous online reports and posts on sites such as Linkedin, the terminated workers were not called into meetings with their managers or human resources, but instead received e-mails (often in their personal e-mail accounts) stating they have been let go. The terminated workers were contacted through their personal e-mails because their corporate e-mail accounts were terminated without warning.

Related:Updated: Tech Layoffs Pick Up in New Year

While this method squelched any notion of jilted employees possibly creating online mayhem, it also prevented them from winding down unfinished business or retrieving samples of their work that might be useful in future employment searches.

Shock and Outrage

Some workers expressed their thanks for being able to work at Google, there were also many instances of workers expressing shock, disbelief, and outrage at being suddenly terminated, via an impersonal e-mail. They did not get a chance to say good-bye to co-workers, with which they often spent countless late hours working on cutting-edge projects.

The layoffs were spread throughout Alphabet, Google’s parent company and included many long-time, experienced workers and managers, some of whom played key roles at the firm’s various operating units. One online report noted that both members of a married couple that worked at Google were let go. The couple has a four-month baby and with the mother still on maternity leave and the father about to take paternity leave.

Related:Are Engineers Still in Demand?

Google CEO Sundar Pichaai, who has for months hinted of layoffs, took the blame for the mass action, stating “Over the past two years we’ve seen periods of dramatic growth. To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today.”

The only bright spot is that the terminated workers are receiving a severance package that is in line with the packages other tech companies have been offering laid-off workers. Google workers in the United States who lose their jobs will get payouts for their 2022 bonuses and remaining vacation time. The staff will receive pay for their full notification period (at a minimum of 60 days). Severance packages start from 16 weeks salary, while there is also six months of healthcare, job placement, and immigration support.

The Google layoffs remind many in the tech world the clumsy manner in which Eton Musk terminated a substantial portion of the workforce at Twitter last November. Musk sent a company-wide e-mail to employees stating layoffs were coming, and within hours the laid-off workers received e-mail termination notices and lost access to internal company communications networks.

The fallout from the Twitter layoff was still lingering into January. Despite being told they would receive notice on severance packages within a week after the layoffs occurred, some former Twitter employees stated recently they have still not gotten any information on their severance.

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor for Design News covering the electronics beat. He has many years of experience covering developments in components, semiconductors, subsystems, power, and other facets of electronics from both a business/supply-chain and technology perspective. He can be reached at [email protected].

Sign up for the Design News Daily newsletter.

You May Also Like