Employee confidence in Google CEO Sundar Pichai and his leadership team is reportedly at a six-year low

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesGoogle CEO Sundar Pichai.
  • Employee confidence in Google’s leadership is sinking.
  • Seventy-four per cent of Google employees gave a positive response when asked if they are confident that CEO Sundar Pichai and his management team can “effectively lead in the future,” Wired reported, citing an internal survey.
  • The result was 18% lower than the 92% “positive” response Pichai and his team received in 2017, and the lowest it’s been in six years.
  • Employee satisfaction with compensation also dropped from 64% in 2017 to 54% in 2018.
  • The declining numbers surfaced amid a year for Google that was full of employee discontent and protest.

Confidence in Google’s leadership is sinking.

Seventy-four per cent of Google employees responded with “positive” responses when asked if they are confident that CEO Sundar Pichai and his management team can “effectively lead in the future,” Wired reported, citing an internal survey. The remaining employees responded either “neutral” or “negative.”

That 74% “positive” response in the 2018 survey – which is known internally as “Googlegeist” – is down from 92% just one year prior. According to Wired, the 18% downturn put employee confidence in Google’s leadership at a six-year low.

Employee satisfaction with compensation also took a hit in 2018, according to the report. The survey showed 54% of employees were pleased with their pay, as opposed to 64% the previous year. (Google’s median pay is $US197,000, which is exceeded by only Facebook among the major tech companies.)

A spokesperson for Google said the results of the survey would be used to inform how the company works in 2019.


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These declining numbers could help explain why a human-resources presentation from 2016 – which floated ideas for cost-cutting initiatives – went viral among Google employees over the past few weeks, the report suggested.

The presentation, which was first reported by Bloomberg, proposed plans that included promoting fewer people, converting full-time employees to contractors, and making sure the company was paying benefits “(only) for the right people.” These more drastic suggestions were not implemented, though some ideas, such as getting rid of the employee holiday gift in favour of a charitable donation, did come to pass.

At an all-hands meeting to discuss compensation, Pichai and Prasad Setty, Google’s vice president of people operations, apologised for the presentation, according to Wired.

Pichai told employees he had never seen the document and would have rejected the controversial suggestion of cutting promotions by 2% had it crossed his desk. According to reports, employees were pleased with Pichai’s response, and the chief exec was praised on internal messaging systems after the meeting.

Still, the sharp decline in confidence and satisfaction from the Googlegeist survey should come as a concern for Pichai and his team, as it comes amid a year full of employee discontent and protest.

In June, about a dozen Google employees resigned in protest over the company’s contract to provide artificial-intelligence technology to the Pentagon. And in November, 20,000 employees around the world walked out to protest the company’s handling of executive sexual-misconduct cases.

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