Marc Benioff Says New Salesforce Hires Are Less Productive

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Sales force Co-CEO Marc Benioff told employees in a Slack message on Friday that the company’s new hires aren’t being productive enough, and asked for feedback on why that’s the case.

“Aren’t we building tribal knowledge with new employees without an office culture?” she asked herself in a message seen by CNBC. She said he was “asking for a friend,” a phrase people often use online to humorously reveal their curiosity about a topic. The message included an emoji showing a smiling face with a halo over it, suggesting innocence.

Benioff’s company-wide message addresses what has become a hot topic in Silicon Valley. Since the arrival of Covid sent workers home nearly three years ago, companies have been trying to reimagine a future workplace that allows for greater employee flexibility than in the past. Some companies have allowed employees to work from anywhere permanently.

Salesforce, the largest private employer in San Francisco, was among the first tech companies to tell their workforce they didn’t have to come back. Last year, Salesforce acquired the communications app LooseY benioff said people can work very effectively from their homes. Sales force said it would allow teams to decide how long they would be in office.

But Benioff may be recognizing some of the challenges remote work presents. On Friday he highlighted an issue that he said affected employees who joined Salesforce this year and last. Salesforce employee numbers grew 32% last year and last month cut hundreds Of jobs

A Salesforce spokesman declined to comment on Benioff’s message, but sent a statement about company policy.

“We have a hybrid work environment that allows leaders and teams to work together with purpose,” the spokesperson wrote. “They can decide when and where they meet to collaborate, innovate and drive customer success.”

Benioff faces slowing revenue growth as the economy weakens and a thinning of the upper ranks within Salesforce. Last month, the company said that Bret Taylor would be go down from his role as co-CEO in January. He had just been promoted to share the top job with Benioff a year earlier. And days later, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield announced his departure.

Here’s the full text of Benioff’s Slack post:

How do we increase the productivity of our employees in salesforce? New employees (hired during the pandemic in 2021 and 2022) especially face much lower productivity. Is this a reflection of our office policy? Aren’t we building tribal knowledge with new hires without an office culture? Don’t our managers directly address productivity with their teams? Are we not investing enough time in our new employees? Do managers focus enough time and energy on onboarding new employees and achieving productivity? Is coming to Salesforce as a new employee too overwhelming? Asking for a friend. (I’m leaving this open to get the broadest level of response.)

The message sparked a variety of comments.

Some reacted with an emoji that read “THIS” next to an up arrow. Others chose emojis that read “WFH” or “citation needed.” Dozens opted for a standard emoji known as a thinking face.

Benioff chimed in again on the responses.

“Asking employees (and customers and each other) tough questions to get answers is one of the most effective ways to get answers as a leader today,” he wrote. “That’s why we bought Slack because there’s no better way to ask questions and get answers fast. We already have almost 500 answers to these questions – amazing and incredibly helpful!”

He was upset that his message made it to the press and eventually ended up on Twitter.

“I hope you agree that it is also disappointing that our private conversations here were almost immediately broadcast to the public media,” he wrote. “I wonder how we reinforce that trust is the most important value of our company. How do we demonstrate the power of trust and transparency without immediate public disclosure? It gets to the heart of who we are in the sales force.”

Their responses were shared with CNBC.

CLOCK: Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff on Bret Taylor’s departure from the company

Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff on Bret Taylor's departure from the company

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