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Google cuts cloud jobs as AI push resumes, American Airlines union rejects pay hike amid calls for more reforms

Google cuts cloud jobs as AI push resumes, American Airlines union rejects pay hike amid calls for more reforms


Hello communications professionals, let’s take a look at some news articles from the last week and see what we can learn from them.

1. Google cuts cloud jobs as it focuses on AI

Google is making further job cuts in its cloud division, following several previous rounds of layoffs, a move that comes as the company ramps up its AI initiatives.

According to Business Insider:

“As we've said before, we continue to evolve our business to meet our customers' priorities and the great opportunities ahead,” a Google spokesperson told BI in a statement. “We remain committed to investing in areas that are critical to our business and will ensure its long-term success.”

Unfortunately, layoffs will happen. But I’m more concerned about why they’re happening and how they’ll be communicated. If the business needs a refocus, that’s fine. But lacking context and specifics, this news sounds like a blatant push to eliminate roles in favor of AI. Whether that’s true or not, Google missed an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and governance principles for the responsible use of AI, which only deepens the questions. If employees are worried about how AI will affect their roles, make sure you talk to them clearly and transparently about it. Getting ahead of ambiguity is the best thing any company investing heavily in AI can do, whether it’s an industry leader or not.

2. American Airlines union refuses to raise wages while negotiations continue

American Airlines and its union were forced to scrap the plan after the union rejected a 17% pay increase and said AA needed to do more.

American Airlines CEO Robert Isom said negotiations would continue as a possible strike loomed, with the union pushing back against initial proposals and seeking longer-term concessions, according to CNBC.

“So to get you paid more now, we've proposed to APFA an immediate 17 percent pay increase and a new formula that increases your profit sharing,” Isom said Wednesday. “This means we're offering a pay increase to all flight attendants and asking nothing in return from the union. This is unusual, but these are unusual times.”

Julie Hedrick, the union's national president, said airlines should focus on preparing long-term contracts with flight attendants.

That's not true, she said.

Communicating with unions is very important for communicators. There are a few key things to do first: actively listen to employee concerns and become familiar with the laws and regulations regarding what can be communicated, where and about whom. Consider that every case is unique, treat it as such, and don't rely on what other companies have done in the past. Work with union representatives to communicate what the union wants to executives who may not take emotional reactions or social concerns into account, and respond in a way that aligns with the business culture and keeps those things top of mind.

3. Airbnb CEO stresses the importance of visibility and empathy during layoffs

Communicating layoffs can be difficult, and there are some communication do's and don'ts to follow when it happens. In a recent podcast interview with Wharton professor Adam Grant, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky revealed the emphasis the company placed on visibility and transparency in its 2020 layoff communications.

“The termination letter that I wrote was not encouraged by anybody,” Chesky revealed on Grant's podcast. “There was a lot of concern about my visibility and my attendance.”

Chesky said he was told the move would put him in an “uncomfortable position.”

“I said, 'Of course I would,'” he recalled. “And it's my job to put myself in an uncomfortable position, rise through it, and show that I'm a human being. I'm going to do my best and show how I feel about it.”

It's refreshing to see a leader be so open and transparent about a layoff. Being human during a difficult time like a layoff is not only important for longtime employees who will lose their jobs, but it's also important to consider how a leader's words will impact the culture of those who remain. Employees are your greatest resource, and showing employees that leaders are human, too, goes a long way toward fostering a culture of belonging.

4. Any good news?

Have a great weekend, Communications All-Stars!





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