Main image of article Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces Layoff Questions

Google CEO Sundar Pichai is playing close to the vest when it comes to layoffs at the search-engine giant.

In an all-hands meeting described by Business Insider as “tense,” Pichai refused to dismiss the possibility of layoffs at some point. “It’s tough to predict the future,” he told employees.

He reportedly followed that up by emphasizing Google’s recent cost-cutting measures. “What we've been trying hard to do, and you've seen the messaging for the past many, many months, is we are trying to make important decisions, be disciplined, prioritize where we can, rationalize where we can so that we are set up to better weather the storm, regardless of what's ahead,” he stated. “I think that's what we should focus on and try and do our best there.”

According to sources such as The InformationGoogle hired 26 percent more workers in the year’s third quarter than the second, despite a supposed hiring freeze. In July, Pichai mentioned in an internal email that the company had hired 10,000 workers in the second quarter. Meanwhile, other tech giants such as Meta and Twitter have laid off thousands of employees, citing the need to save cash and prepare for the future.

If Google unleashes layoffs, it could aggravate a supposed morale issue. As part of a broader attempt to adjust its relationship with employees, the company recently retooled its performance evaluation system—but the new platform, GRAD (Googler Reviews and Development), has gotten mixed reviews from workers. “Thank you for your patience and hanging with us with GRAD, especially managers,” Fiona Cicconi, Google's chief people officer, reportedly said during the same all-hands meeting. “I know it's been bumpy, but it will start to feel like normal, and it will get easier and easier each time that we do it.”

Whatever Pichai decides to do with the workforce, Google will need to continue to pay its specialized employees significant compensation to keep them happy—further pressuring attempts at cost-cutting. With broader tech unemployment at 2 percent in November, tech professionals with the right skills and experience can find other opportunities out there.