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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.

During the July 17-24 post-layoff period, 53 people purporting to be current or former Microsoft employees published a company review to Glassdoor, the majority of them (64%) still working for the firm.

In the eight days before that (July 9-16), 34 people posted to Glassdoor, with almost the same percentage (62%) identifying themselves as current employees of Microsoft.

The two groups, pre- and post-layoff, however, had differing opinions of Nadella when asked whether they approved or disapproved of his performance.

Before the job cuts, 62% of the Microsoft current or former workers said they approved of Nadella, while just 3% said they disapproved and 27% answered with the politic "no opinion."

After the layoffs were announced, the mood changed. In the eight days following the cuts, 47% said they approved of Nadella, 13% said they disapproved, and 32% claimed they had no opinion. (The figures do not total 100% because not all who posted a review on Glassdoor provided an answer on the CEO question.)

Since Microsoft announced its largest-ever layoffs, the percentage of former and current employees who approved of Satya Nadella as CEO fell on Glassdoor, while the percentage who disapproved grew. (Data: Glassdoor.)

The 15-point drop of those who approved of Nadella represented a decline of 24%, while the 10-point increase in those who disapproved translated into a huge 333% gain.

The increase in the percentage who disapproved was not surprising. After all, one would assume former employees would be angry at Nadella for laying them off. However, that wasn't necessarily the case. Although the percentage of former employees who disapproved post-layoff was 11%, the percentage of current employees who disapproved was even higher, at 15%. Both groups saw an increase in the percentages of those who disapproved after the layoffs.

At the same time, the percentages of both former and current workers who approved of Nadella went down: The share of "approve" among former employees dropped from 43% before the layoffs to 21% after; among current workers, "approve" also fell, albeit less sharply, from 71% before the job cuts to 62% after.

Those changes showed that the experts were right: Layoffs affect everyone at a company, not just those shown the door. And uncertainty can psychologically cripple those who remain when layoffs are extended over a long period. Microsoft has said that about 5,000 of the 18,000 jobs to be cut won't be identified until as late as next June.

Even more fascinating were the comments employees wrote in their reviews of Microsoft as an organization and when asked to give advice to senior management.

Some of the most scathing commentary came from those still working at Microsoft.


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