Google cuts office supplies, Layoffs numbers skyrocket

Plus, Amazon snubs an employee petition against in-office work requirements.

Greetings, comms pros! Let’s look at some news stories from this week and see what lessons we can learn from them.

1. Google to cut down on employee laptop services, office supplies

Google employees were just informed that the office supplies they once considered standard issue, like work laptops, might be going away. as the company looks to save money.

According to CNBC:

Google’s finance chief Ruth Porat recently said in a rare companywide email that the company is making cuts to employee services.

“These are big, multi-year efforts,” Porat said in a Friday email titled: “Our company-wide OKR on durable savings.” Elements of the email were previously reported by The Wall Street Journal.

In separate documents viewed by CNBC, Google said it’s cutting back on fitness classes, staplers, tape and the frequency of laptop replacements for employees.

You’d think that after a big round of layoffs (that didn’t go over great with many employees, for the record), the company would seek to make life easier for the employees that remain. Cutting costs is something that all companies need to do from time to time, but these cuts seem a bit severe in terms of what they target. A productive and happy employee is one that has the tools to do their job properly and the resources to support them outside of it, and these cuts aim right for those tools.

2. Layoffs increase by 396% year-over-year

The unstable economy has led to hiring freezes and job cuts, with recent data showing that nearly 90,000 jobs were cut in March alone. These numbers are a fivefold increase from last year, and serve as a concrete sign of the shifting job market. The tech sector has been hit especially hard in 2023, with layoffs in the six figures…

According to CNBC:

“We know companies are approaching 2023 with caution, though the economy is still creating jobs,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “With rate hikes continuing and companies’ reigning in costs, the large-scale layoffs we are seeing will likely continue.”

When the economy isn’t showing any signs of rapid stabilization, we need to know how to handle layoff communications head-on. Be honest and forthright where you can, inform the most immediately affected teams first, and align with clear, consistent messaging from leadership. Most of all, be respectful to the people who have put in so much of their time and effort to move the organization forward. It’s the right thing to do, both in a business sense and on a personal level.

  1. Amazon HR chief rejects petition against return-to-work mandate

We’ve written a lot about the benefits of remote and hybrid work, witnessing a trend become the norm as more enterprise businesses acknowledge that it’ll never totally go away. But Amazon’s HR head pushed back against a petition signed by tens of thousands of employees who wanted to continue their work-from-home arrangements.

According to Insider:

Amazon HR head Beth Galetti told the organizing group behind the petition—which was signed by roughly 30,000 workers—that its request was shared with Jassy’s leadership team and that the company still intends to move forward with its RTO plan, according to a message shared with Insider.

“Given the large size of our workforce and our wide range of businesses and customers, we recognize this transition may take time, but we are confident it will result in long-term benefits to increasing our ability to deliver for our customers, bolstering our culture, and growing and developing employees,” Galetti said in the memo.

While Amazon doesn’t have a fantastic track record with treating their employees the best, there is some nuance that can be had here, which several other big companies like Disney and Apple have demonstrated by asking their employees to come back at least part-time. Amazon’s flat rejection of a petition that 30,000 employees signed isn’t a good look, and also demonstrates how your internal misgivings will quickly become external headlines when mishandled. In an age when digital information flows are 24/7 and crowdsourced, your internal and external comms functions should be integrated.

4. How about some good news?

Have a great weekend comms all-stars!

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.

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