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Sanjana B., Pune

The Internet came with several promises — worldwide connectivity, access to unlimited information, and employment. In fact, in 2020 (pre-pandemic estimation) around 55.3 million people worldwide were expected to be employed full-time in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. 

Credits: Stockimages. For representational purposes only

Today, Big Tech and Google parent Alphabet Inc. has announced a mass layoff of 12,000 employees. In a letter to his employees, CEO Sundar Pichai said, “Over the past two years, we’ve seen periods of dramatic growth. To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today. So, we’ve undertaken a rigorous review across product areas and functions to ensure our people and roles are aligned with our highest priorities as a company”. 

The job roles eliminated will be across Alphabet, product areas, functions, levels, and regions, he mentioned. Only U.S. employees are entitled to a severance package that includes 16 weeks of salary — two weeks for every additional year, and at least 16 weeks of Google’s Restricted Stock Units (GSU) vesting. The Big Tech also announced 2022’s bonuses and remaining vacation time, along with six months of healthcare, job placement services, and immigration support for the affected. 

This announcement came days after Microsoft disclosed plans of laying off around 5 percent of its global workforce on Wednesday. CEO Satya Nadella said the company, to “trim costs amid economic uncertainty and refocus on priorities such as artificial intelligence,” will lay off 10,000 employees. This is reportedly their largest furlough in roughly eight years. 

Alongside, Big tech like Meta and Amazon have announced layoffs of 11,000 and 18,000 employees respectively. 

Several tech giants have resorted to mass firing because of over-hiring and failed acquisitions. To meet a pandemic-fueled demand for growing dependence on technology, companies sought more human resources. As the world settled down and people were no longer confined to their homes, there was a decrease in the reliance on e-commerce platforms. Addressing this predicament, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “At the start of Covid, the world rapidly moved online, and the surge of e-commerce led to outsized revenue growth. People predicted this would be a permanent acceleration that would continue even after the pandemic…Unfortunately, this did not play out the way I expected.” 

Prominent Cloud Customer relationship management (CRM) company Salesforce also declared a layoff of 10 percent of its 80,000 employees. Following this, co-CEO Bret Taylor and Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield (now a Salesforce subsidiary company) announced their exit. 

According to a lay-off tracker, 154 tech companies have fired 55,324 employees in 2023 alone. Even Indian start-ups are now susceptible to mass layoffs as Swiggy announced on Friday its decision to fire 380 employees out of its workforce of 6,000. The Indian delivery giant mentioned the ‘challenging macroeconomic conditions’ and a decline in the growth rate for food delivery. Swiggy also admitted to over-hiring staff, resulting in reduced profits and income margin. Wipro is another India-based IT firm that laid off 452 freshers due to poor performance during internships and training periods.  

A former Microsoft VP of HR stated that some job roles in every company are less susceptible to mass layoffs. In a Business Insider article, he said

that employees necessary for building the most profitable products for their companies are at low risk of layoffs. Other (comparatively) secure job roles include finance, facilities, and human resources. Some of the most vulnerable job roles are event planning or benefits employees, contract workers, and new initiative employees.