- Fired Google employees were shocked the tech giant emailed them to let them go.
- “How Google behaved was not Google,” said an affected employee of the abrupt emails.
- “It very much feels like they’re just as cutthroat as everyone else,” said another.
Fired Google employees say they are dismayed by the abrupt and impersonal manner in which they were fired.
Google told affected US employees in an early morning email on Jan. 20 that “we don’t have a job for you anymore.” Google has long been recognized as a trendsetter in corporate culture, helping to shape what has become a standard among top tech companies today, and employees say they are disappointed to be quitting after years of service via email became.
A security engineer, who found out he was fired after receiving an overnight notification on his work phone and finding he couldn’t unlock his company devices, told Insider it was a “shock” to be fired this way become.
“That wasn’t the culture we worked in, at least before this point,” he said. “How Google behaved was not Google.”
Many fired workers spoke on condition of anonymity because they were concerned about speaking to the press, about breaching their severance pay, or because they might want to return to Google in the future but their identities are known to insiders.
Google is known for its rigorous application process, and its employees are frequently targeted by headhunters, but many choose to stay because of the open culture, benefits — like on-site laundry and gyms — and job security.
Paul Baker, a video production manager, told Insider that he’s “100% embraced the Google culture” and sometimes spent all day on campus. “I drank the Kool-Aid,” he said.
“Google felt like my home,” a member of Google’s analytics team, who has worked there for about a decade, told Insider. “It was family … You could feel it as you walked through the door.”
He said he felt “taken advantage of”. The decision to fire employees via email is “inhumane” and shows that Google is “just a company,” he said.
A fired technical program manager said she turned down other job offers and moved abroad when she started the job less than a year ago. When she read the email, “she burst into tears,” she said.
Other fired workers told Insiders that the email dismissals “came lazy,” showed “cowardice,” and were “really pissed off.”
“The mechanics of everything are very awkward,” said one.
Baker told Insider he was laid off while on paid nursing leave. A friend informed him of the layoffs, and Baker realized he was concerned when he couldn’t log into his laptop.
“It’s kind of unprecedented because Google has never acted like this before,” he said. “We’re basically cut off and I’m still in a muddle trying to figure out: How is my severance pay going while I’m on care leave?”
Other workers were laid off while on maternity leave.
Baker said he wasn’t upset about the impersonality of the layoffs, “just extremely disappointed”.
Nicholas Whitaker, who worked on Google’s human resources development team before his sacking, told Insider that when he saw messages that morning from colleagues asking if he was okay, he thought there had been a shooting or a natural disaster .
His initial reaction was “complete shock and dismay,” he said, describing the lack of personal contact as a “slap in the face.”
“What hurts the most is just the lack of respect and the lack of humanity in the way it was dealt with.”
Laid-off workers said that in many cases their managers came forward through other channels to offer support and express surprise at the layoffs, after the affected workers were quickly cut off from the company’s communication channels. Many managers do not appear to have been notified of the layoffs in advance or asked to help select employees. Two of the laid-off workers Insider spoke to said their managers were also laid off.
Time zones caused other problems. While many workers in the US woke up to or received their resignation email before they were supposed to start work, this was not the case for workers in Europe. Dan Lanigan-Ryan, an Ireland-based recruiter, told Insider he was gradually being locked out of company accounts, which other employees blamed on technical issues, culminating in a call where one applicant dropped out.
“I was excluded from everything. And then I saw on the news about 15, 20 minutes later that Google was announcing 12,000 layoffs,” he said.
Google publicly announced the layoffs around 2:30 a.m. PT, 5:30 a.m. ET and 10:30 a.m. GMT.
Lanigan-Ryan said that because he was a contractor, he didn’t receive a cancellation email from Google, only a message from his agency a few hours later.
The 10-year-old Analytics employee said some US employees didn’t receive the email because Google stored the wrong email address.
Two decades-long employees who were unaffected by the layoffs told Insider that employees are now uncertain about their jobs and fear further staff cuts.
“Anything that used to feel special or like you were really part of a mission — not just a big money machine — that feeling is gone, I think,” said a West Coast engineer. An East Coast engineer questioned what makes Google different from other companies because remaining employees are poached after their sense of job security is gone.
“To preserve the culture of the company, I would have liked the layoffs to be more concerted and thoughtful,” said a fired employee who has worked in Alphabet’s finance department for about five years.
“I just can’t understand why Google decided to squander employees’ trust in the company by doing this.”
A technical writer at Google who hasn’t been fired told Insider that the remaining staff feel “dispensable” and are having trouble concentrating. She called the layoffs a “massive breach of trust.”
“It feels a lot like they’re just as cutthroat as everyone else,” said one laid-off employee who had been with Google Cloud for nearly five years.
“Here the crown fell.”
Have you been fired from Google? Or are you still working there? Contact this reporter at [email protected]