Google CEO tells employees to expect more layoffs, survey shows 1 in 4 CEOs plan to replace workers with AI in 2024

Plus, workplace wellness programs may not make employees happier.

Greetings, comms pros! Let’s take a look at a few stories from the past week and see what we can learn from them.

1 . Google CEO Pichai tells employees that layoffs are coming

Despite a big round of layoffs last year and more cuts since the beginning of 2024 , Google isn’t finished with job cuts yet. According to CEO Sundar Pichai, Google employees should expect more layoffs.

According to The Verge:

Google has laid off over a thousand employees across various departments since January 10th. CEO Sundar Pichai’s message is to brace for more cuts.

“We have ambitious goals and will be investing in our big priorities this year,” Pichai told all Google employees on Wednesday in an internal memo that was shared with me. “The reality is that to create the capacity for this investment, we have to make tough choices.”

Pichai hasn’t had the easiest go of it with employee relations in the past year-plus. From comments that seemed to minimize job cuts last year to employees calling out his pay bump amid ongoing layoffs, it’s been a bumpy road laden with lessons in how he could have handled things differently.

But in this instance, although the message is negative, Pichai used empathetic language and explained some reasoning behind the job eliminations. Layoffs aren’t ever easy to talk about — but people want clarity from their leadership, and it’s better to deliver bad news than be ambiguous and create uncertainty. In this case, it’s t encouraging to see Pichai give reasoning for his actions. Hopefully that will carry through to any potential future announcements.

2. One in four leaders plan on replacing workers with AI in 2024

Like it or not, AI is here and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere any time soon. But if a recent poll by PwC indicates what’s to come, some workers might find themselves out of work because of AI if certain leaders get their way. The report stated that CEOs expect generative AI to help with a number of on-the-job tasks, including one termed “headcount reduction”.

“One-quarter of CEOs [are] expecting to reduce headcount by at least 5% in 2024 due to generative AI,” PwC said in a news release. This poll offers some interesting insights into how leadership and AI will interact. AI provides an exciting potential future for communicators, but leaders can’t forget that AI is only as powerful as the people wielding it. It’s a tool to help people do their jobs better — not replace them entirely. Leaders should remember this when considering how AI impacts their staff.

3. Workplace wellness programs don’t always make employees happier: report

Workplace wellness is a noble pursuit, but what if some workplace wellness initiatives didn’t promote wellness, and in fact did the opposite? If several studies and a report from The Guardian are any indication, they might do the opposite.

Guardian columnist Andre Spicer summed the solution up well.

Most workplaces are not temples of wellness. In some cases, they can be quite the opposite. What’s more, many of the interventions employers use routinely to supposedly improve employee wellbeing appear to make no difference – or in some cases, can even make things worse. The good news for leaders and employees is that we know what does work; instead of investing in ineffective initiatives, leaders should focus on taking away stressors. This means getting rid of unnecessarily complicated systems, poorly trained managers, and – in some cases – ineffective wellness interventions.

Spot on. Sometimes the best paths towards wellness aren’t a yoga class or a company-paid gym membership — it’s figuring out what obstacles there are in the way of employees feeling and performing their best. Open and honest two-way communications are a great way to solve this. Workplace wellness is still an important part of work culture — but it might just require a rethink and need to take a different form for some organizations.

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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