Google CEO Says Employee Productivity Must Improve, Warns of ‘Challenging Environment’

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has issued a warning to employees, asking them to improve productivity and focus.

As fears of a recession mount, companies are taking measures to prepare and insulate themselves. Pichai is warning Google employees that the company’s productivity is not at the level it should be, given the size of the company.

According to CNBCthe statements were made at an all-hands meeting last Wednesday where Pichai solicited feedback from employees on ways the company can improve.

“I wanted to give some additional context following our earnings results, and ask for your help as well,” Pichai said, referring to the company’s second-quarter earnings report. “It’s clear we are facing a challenging macro environment with more uncertainty ahead.””

“There are real concerns that our productivity as a whole is not where it needs to be for the head count we have,” he added. Pichai then 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.”

Readmore: Google Pauses Hiring for Two Weeks

As one of the proposed measures to increase productivity, Pichai introduced a “Simplicity Sprint,” borrowing a term from software development wherein a team works to accomplish specific tasks in a set amount of time. Pichai said employees could submit ideas through August 15, ideas that could be used to increase focus and help streamline the company’s efforts.

Some of the questions 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 better results faster? How do we eliminate waste and stay entrepreneurial and focused as we grow?

CNBC reports there were concerns raised at the meeting about whether the company has plans to lay employees off. The fears were largely driven by comments Pichai made in mid-July when he said the company would be streamlining its investments, looking for areas of overlap, and pausing work on some projects.

When asked whether the company planned to lay off employees, Pichai turned to Fiona Cicconi, Google’s Chief People Officer.

“We’re asking teams to be more focused and efficient and we’re working out what that means as a company as well,” Cicconi said. “Even though we can’t be sure of the economy in the future, we’re not currently looking to reduce Google’s overall workforce.”

“I really get that there is some anxiety around this based on what we’re hearing from other companies and what they’re doing and as Sundar mentioned, we’re still hiring for critical roles,” Cicconi added.

It’s unclear whether employees were reassured by that answer since it didn’t rule out the possibility of layoffs at a future point.

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