Employee confidence in Google CEO Sundar Pichai and his leadership team is reportedly at a six-year low (GOOGL, GOOG)

Confidence in Google’s leadership is sinking.

According to an internal survey reported by Wired, 74% of Google employees responded “positive” when asked if they are confident that CEO Sundar Pichai and his management team can “effectively lead in the future.” The remaining employees responded either “neutral” or “negative.”

That 74% “positive” response in the 2018 survey — which is known internally as Googlegeist — is down from 92% just one year prior. According to Wired, the 18% downturn put employee confidence in Google’s leadership at a six-year low.

Employee satisfaction with compensation also took a hit in 2018, according to the report. The survey showed 54% of employees were pleased with their pay, as opposed to 64% the previous year. (Google’s median pay is $197,000, which is the second-highest only to Facebook amongst major tech companies.)

A spokesperson for Google said that the results of the survey would be used to inform how the company works in 2019.

Read more: Google challenged federal protections for activist workers three weeks after mass employee walkouts, but the company says it’s unrelated

These declining numbers could help explain why an internal HR presentation from 2016 — which floated ideas for cost-cutting initiatives — went viral amongst Google employees over the past few weeks, the report suggests.

The presentation, which was first reported by Bloomberg, proposed plans which included promoting fewer people, converting full-time employees to contractors, and making sure the company was paying benefits “(only) for the right people.” These more drastic suggestions were not implemented, though some ideas, like getting rid of the employee holiday gift in favor of a charitable donation, did come to pass.

At an all-hands meeting to discuss compensation, Pichai and Prasad Setty, Google’s vice president of people operations, apologized for the presentation, according to Wired.

Pichai told employees he had never seen the document and would have rejected the controversial suggestion of cutting promotions by 2% had it crossed his desk. According to reports, employees were pleased with Pichai’s response, and the chief exec was praised on internal messaging systems after the meeting.

Still, the sharp decline in confidence and satisfaction from Googlegeist survey should come as a concern for Pichai and his team, as it comes amid a year full of employee discontent and protest.

In June, about a dozen Google employees resigned in protest over the company’s contract to provide artificial intelligence technology to the Pentagon. And in November, 20,000 employees around the world walked out to protest the company’s handling of executive sexual misconduct cases.

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