During a nearly two-hour meeting Thursday to discuss the company’s massive layoff plans, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff doubled down on a theme that infuriated some employees last month: that employees of Salesforce, especially new hires during the pandemic, have a productivity problem.
And this time, he made a new suggestion — that younger employees who don’t come into the office might also be less productive, according to leaked audio from the meeting shared with Insider.
“We don’t have the same level of performance and productivity that we had in 2020 before the pandemic. That’s not the case,” Benioff said on the call. “When we look at a certain percentage of employees, especially some of the new hires, they’re just not as productive.”
Benioff and his co-founder Parker Harris, also on this call, raised the topic to defend what had become a company uproar in mid-December after Benioff suggested in an internal company-wide Slack message company that new employees are less productive.
“New hires (hired during the pandemic in 2021 and 2022) in particular face much lower productivity,” he had said on Slack according to these posts seen and reported by Insider. Hundreds of employees responded to Benioff’s Slack post, many of them pushing back against his claims.
Benioff addressed this repression by doubling down on the assertion and offering explanations and examples.
He told the more than 47,000 employees in attendance that he was inspired to post worker productivity information on Slack after COO and head of sales Brian Milham told him that 96% of the annual value of the company’s contract were provided by 50% of commercial account managers. ACV is a way to measure the annual revenue of each specific client.
“Half of our Salesforce isn’t really productive and a lot of them are our new hires. So why?” Benioff recounted the conversation. “Are we not managing our remote employees well enough? Do we need new skills? Because this has never happened before in the history of the company.”
Benioff also insisted that it wasn’t just because of a post-pandemic economic downturn where customers were spending less on software. He said the company was still closing large-scale deals at a rapid pace “but half of our sales organization is really in trouble. Like they don’t know how,” he said. “There must be a few things going on psychologically and technically.”
Benioff wondered aloud if remote work was the problem, especially for younger employees “maybe they’re not building the relationships,” he said, then wondered at out loud if “younger employees don’t have the kind of social experience and don’t meet people and get the kind of swivel chair that we had before.”
Employees who heard their CEO repeat these claims about the productivity of new hires, younger employees, remote employees — especially in sales — were less than pleased.
“Clearly this is a CEO from another generation,” one person said.
After hundreds of sales employees were targeted for layoff in November, several former and current employees later told Insider they blamed Salesforce’s performance appraisal system, saying it created unrealistic goals. with difficult accounts, setting them up for failure.
“Our sales performance process drives accountability,” a Salesforce spokesperson said at the time in a statement provided to Insider. “Unfortunately, this may lead some to leave the company, and we support them in their transition.”
Benioff almost addressed those complaints while discussing a project, called Org 62, to improve how Salesforce’s own sales force uses its flagship customer relationship management product, a tool to help salespeople work more efficiently. .
“Should we rebuild Org 62 with a greater sense of urgency?” Benioff said on the call.
Salesforce employees were rattled by Benioff’s references to productivity coming, as they did, as part of a larger discussion about more job cuts, according to those present at the meeting and internal Slack messages seen by Insider.
For some, calls to be productive while the company executes a mass layoff have only served to further hamper productivity.
“I would say it’s a lost week of productivity for Salesforce, ironically,” said a sales person who was present at the meeting.
Salesforce did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.
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