Microsoft to freeze salaries this year amid economic uncertainty

Move expected to generate 'enough yield' to invest in company's shift toward AI, CEO says

This year, Microsoft began cutting thousands of jobs. Reuters
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Microsoft has decided to freeze the pay of all its full-time workers this year to help it to navigate macroeconomic ructions, becoming the latest US technology leader to tighten its belt during a time of mounting uncertainty.

Chief executive Satya Nadella said in an internal memo that the move was necessary to generate “enough yield” to invest in the major platform shift towards artificial intelligence.

Microsoft had already raised compensation in 2022, he said.

However, the company will consider raising rates for hourly workers while maintaining a bonus and stock award programme without “overfunding” it, Mr Nadella said, without elaborating.

“As a company we recognise that navigating both a dynamic economic environment and a major platform shift requires us to make critical decisions in how we invest in our people,” a company representative said.

Technology companies have downsized and slashed expenses globally to account for tepid consumer demand and shore up finances ahead of a potential recession.

This year, Microsoft began cutting thousands of jobs, joining peers from Meta Platforms to Amazon.

The software leader last month reported quarterly profit and sales that topped projections, and is making massive investments in AI.

These include a reported $10 billion ploughed into OpenAI and a Bing internet search chatbot — a strategy to drive future sales of Azure cloud services, search advertisements and office productivity programmes.

“As a senior leadership team, we don’t take this decision lightly, having considered it over several months,” Mr Nadella said in his memo.

“This year, the economic conditions are very different across many dimensions, including customer demand, the labour market and the investments required for the next cycle of innovation.”

Updated: May 11, 2023, 4:18 AM