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GRAD: Changes To Google’s Employee Appraisal System Stir Layoff Fears

Key Highlights

  • Due to macroeconomic headwinds, several major technology companies announced layoffs in the last few months.
  • Currently, Google is highlighted as news reports predict that the company will cut at least 10,000 jobs.

The predictions are based on a report from the Information, which said that under the Google Reviews and Development (GRAD) program that was launched earlier this year, managers had been told to allocate a low performer rating to a minimum of 6% of employees compared to 2% under the old performance review process.

Some industry watchers expect this move would increase the number of employees ranked as low performers and presages layoffs of those employees.

At the end of the September quarter, Google’s total number of full-time employees stood at 186,779, a 24.5% year-on-year increase. Six percent of the current headcount of Google would be about 11,000 people.

Google has not announced layoffs and disagreed to comment on the specifics of the Information report. However, The company maintains that GRAD was launched to help employee development.

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What Google Says?

According to a statement from Google, Earlier this year, they launched Googler Reviews and Development (GRAD) to help employee development, coaching, learning, and career progression throughout the year. The new system helps in establishing clear expectations and provides employees with regular feedback.

Details on GRAD

CEO Sundar Pichai announced GRAD in May after almost 47% of its employees voted against the lengthy older review process, which took place twice a year.

According to a source on anonymity, under GRAD, a manager is expected to hold a “support check-in” meeting before providing a low-performance rating or rating below “significant impact.”

The meetings offer an opportunity for the employees to make adjustments in their work to meet their goals, according to the source, who added that a vast majority of staff at the company is predicted to have a rating above or at par with “significant impact,” based on the five-point rating scale.

CNBC reports that the employees of Google feel jittery about the new performance review process because appraisals under the system come at a time when the company is looking to reduce operating expenses. According to the report, lower performance ratings have already started rolling out for some employees.

Googlers received bad news in July when the company announced that it was implementing a hiring freeze. They followed it up with a program dubbed Simplicity Sprint to boost staff efficiency and productivity. While announcing the program, CEO Sundar Pichai not only alluded to macroeconomic uncertainty but also said that the company’s productivity needed closer to where it should be based on headcount.

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These changes were announced after Alphabet, Google’s parent company, reported weaker-than-expected revenue for the last two quarters consecutively.

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