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Illustration by Laurent Hrybyk.

Tech Companies Tilt Power in Their Favor With Performance Reviews

Photo: Illustration by Laurent Hrybyk.

Nearly six months ago, Shopify promised staffers it would raise everyone’s salary, hoping to keep people from jumping ship as their share-based pay slumped along with the company’s stock price. Instead, after a hastily assembled performance review process, the e-commerce software giant decided to give only a select number of employees a pay raise.

It also decided to quietly cut about 50 workers in June, a person familiar with the matter told The Information, which became a prelude to broader layoffs at Shopify undertaken in July. The switch reflects just how much the employment dynamic has changed at tech firms amid mounting economic worries and a renewed investor focus on profitability.

While widespread layoffs have captured headlines, tech executives behind the scenes have been turning up the heat on employees by giving performance reviews more teeth—setting the stage for a steady stream of worker exits in the coming months. For staff used to being coddled with softball reviews, the new approach represents a stark change in tone.

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