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Layoffs cool Microsoft employees' opinion of CEO Satya Nadella

Gregg Keizer | July 29, 2014
The percentage of Microsoft current and former employees who approve of CEO Satya Nadella has dropped since the company announced layoffs.

Although Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's approval rating before the company's biggest-ever layoff was high enough to place him in the top 30 of U.S. chief executives, the percentage of employees, both current and former, who say they approve of him as the firm's leader has dropped since the job cuts.

Nadella announced the layoffs on July 17, when he said that the Redmond, Wash. technology giant would shed 18,000 jobs in the next year, two-thirds of the cuts coming from the Nokia mobile phone division that Microsoft acquired this year for $7.2 billion.

About 5,500 of the proposed job cuts, however, are to come from non-Nokia personnel, with at least 1,400 of those from the Seattle area and elsewhere in the state.

Glassdoor, a Sausalito, Calif.-based online jobs and careers website, had pegged Nadella's approval rating at 88% for the five months since he took the CEO job on Feb. 4. That approval rating, based on nearly 600 reviews by current and former employees on the website, was well above the average Glassdoor CEO approval rating of 69%, the company said in response to questions.

At 88%, Nadella would have placed in the top 30 of the 2013-2014 list that Glassdoor published in March, when it unveiled its annual ranking of U.S. CEOs. In that list, Apple CEO Tim Cook was No. 18 with a 92% approval rating, while other technology chief executives — Qualcomm's Paul Jacobs (No. 5), Intuit's Brad Smith (No. 7), Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg (No. 10), Google's Larry Page (No. 11) and's Marc Benioff (No. 13) — came in even higher.

Nadella's approval rating was a stratospheric 96%, according to data Glassdoor provided to Geekwire a day after the July 17 layoffs. At that level, Nadella would have been No. 4 on last year's list.

However, Glassdoor said it's too soon to assign a post-layoff approval rating for Nadella. "It's still a little too early to tell how much his approval rating has been affected [by the layoffs]," a Glassdoor representative said in a July 24 email. Glassdoor promised to revisit the topic later.

Instead, Glassdoor suggested that Computerworld peruse the individual reviews that current and former Microsoft employees posted to the website since the job cuts.

Which is what Computerworld did, tallying the numbers of former and current Microsoft employees who posted a review during the eight-day stretch from July 17 to July 24, then comparing their opinions on Nadella to those of the former and current employees who added a review in the eight days before the layoffs, or from July 9 to July 16, inclusive.

While the results were far from scientific — the sampling was self-selected and there was no way to tell when a worker switched from current to former — they were certainly interesting.


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