Bulletins

Google execs push back on employee pay concerns

Workers have asked why Google isn't doing more to compete with Amazon and Apple.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Sundar Pichai read questions aloud at an all-hands meeting.

Photo: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Google is insisting its pay is competitive, even as employees question whether their compensation is fair.

At an all-hands meeting, Google CEO Sundar Pichai read a question submitted by an employee aloud: “Compensation-related questions showed the biggest decrease from last year: What is your understanding of why that is?” The question refers to a recent internal survey that found issues like compensation and promotions were top concerns for workers. The percentage of workers who felt their pay was competitive dropped from the previous year.


Bret Hill, who leads the company's compensation and stock packages, blamed "macro economic trends." “It’s a very competitive market, and you’re probably hearing anecdotal stories of colleagues getting better offers at other companies," he said at the meeting, which CNBC reported.

Hill added that workers are "dealing with location changes and the effects there." Execs at Google and other large tech companies have said they'd cut pay for workers who move to a city with lower cost of living. According to a recent Alphabet Workers Union petition, some of those locations include Durham, North Carolina; Des Moines, Iowa; and Houston, Texas.

“We know that our employees have many choices about where they work, so we ensure they are very well compensated,” a Google spokesperson told CNBC. “That’s why we’ve always provided top of market compensation across salary, equity, leave and a suite of benefits.”

Workers submitted several other questions about pay. One question asked what — if anything — Google plans to do after Amazon doubled its maximum base salary and Apple gave some workers stock bonuses. Another asked: “If Google aims to hire the top 1% of talent, why doesn’t Google aim to pay the 1% of salaries, rather than being top 5%-10% of the market?” Hill said Google has been able to "hire the best people everywhere" by staying in that market range.

It's unsurprising that employees would be worked up about compensation. Before the survey results were published, Google told workers it wouldn't raise pay to match inflation.

Execs and workers agreed on the issue of performance reviews, which employees raised as a concern in the survey. Leaders said the company is making changes to the performance review process, which is often lengthy.

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