Google, Meta to cut jobs

California tech giants respond to 'quiet quitting' with 'quiet layoffs'

Google, Meta to cut jobs

Mark Zuckerberg’s prophecy is coming to fruition.

In July, the Meta CEO told staffers during a companywide call that not everyone was meeting the Menlo Park, CA-based company’s standards and that some might want to leave voluntarily, Reuters reported. Zuckerberg added the company planned on reducing plans to hire engineers by at least 30% this year.

“If I had to bet, I’d say that this might be one of the worst downturns that we’ve seen in recent history,” Zuckerberg said. “Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here.”

Read more: How HR leaders should manage layoffs ahead of recession

Following the call, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) gave engineering managers a deadline to identify anyone on their team who “needs support” and report them in an internal HR system, The Information reported. “If a direct report is coasting or is a low performer, they are not who we need; they are failing this company,” wrote Maher Saba, the company’s head of engineering. “As a manager, you cannot allow someone to be net neutral or negative for Meta.”

And now Meta is giving many of its 83,553 employees a month to apply for different positions within the company, the Wall Street Journal reported. Re-organizing departments is expected to be merely the first step toward larger staff reductions.

Similarly, Google has informed about 50 employees (roughly half of those employed at the firm’s startup incubator Area 120) they need to find a new internal role within three months if they want to remain employed, the Wall Street Journal reported.

While other major American employers have announced layoffs over the past few months, these tech giants seem to be avoiding such dramatic phrasing while still cutting jobs. Instead of “quiet quitting,” perhaps they’re performing “quiet layoffs.”

Major brands throughout the United States, especially in California, have been trimming their workforces ahead of an economic downturn. Just this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Gap Inc. plans to cut about 500 corporate jobs at offices in San Francisco, New York and Asia. That came on the heels of real estate giant Compass, which has more than 100 offices in California, undergoing layoffs Tuesday as part of its plan to “significantly” reduce costs by the end 2022, VICE reported. Although the company didn’t disclose the size of the layoffs, the technology team will be heavily impacted, according to the report.

More than 650 startups and tech firms have laid off more than 110,000 people in 2022, according to Blind’s tech layoffs tracker.

Read more: How to rescind a job offer

Ahead of an anticipated recession, three out of four (78%) American workers are fearful they will lose their jobs, according to a survey from Insight Global, a national staffing services company. Meanwhile, 56% of American workers say they don't feel financially prepared for a recession or they don't know how they would prepare for a recession. More than half (54%) would be willing to take a pay cut, even with inflation at a 40-year high, to avoid being laid off if there were a recession.

“It's unfortunate we're already seeing some companies turn to mass layoffs because I believe layoffs should be the absolute last resort,” said Bert Bean, CEO of Insight Global. “Instead, I encourage leaders to consider other solutions, such as building a plan that avoids layoffs and helps you grow through a recession. Get your employee base executing on that, because when you bounce back from a recession, you'll need your people more than ever.”

Of course, HR leaders who experienced the global recession of 2008-2009 are better positioned to weather this potential storm. They’ve learned what works and business leaders will be turning to them to take the helm. As for HR professionals who are about to enter uncharted territory, this will be trial by fire.

“You never know how long these scenarios will last,” Jaemi Taylor, managing director in the HR practice of Allegis Partners, told HRD. Before joining the New York City-based executive search firm, Taylor spent nearly 20 years recruiting HR leaders, having worked for Robert Half, Beacon Hill and ChapmanCG.

“I’ve worked with HR leaders during COVID who asked the CEO or the board for more time, whether that’s a quarter or a month, before making drastic cuts,” Taylor says. “You want to review critical hiring, determine critical business initiatives and most importantly, avoid knee-jerk reactions.”

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