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What are the big companies doing? Apple boosts hourly starting pay to $22, Google overhauls performance reviews

Written on Jun 3, 2022

Big U.S. companies are continuing to restructure their compensation and performance management systems to remain competitive amid tight labor markets, surging inflation and a rise in union activity. 

On May 25, Apple Inc. announced it will raise the starting pay for its US employees to $22 per hour, or higher based on the market, a 45% jump from 2018 levels. 

Also in May, Google said it is overhauling its performance evaluation process, implementing changes that will result in increased salaries. 

In other recent corporate actions, Microsoft Corp. told workers it would almost double its global budget for merit-based salary raises, and Amazon said it was doubling its base pay cap for corporate staff. 

Along with increasing its overall compensation budget for 2022, some Apple workers, including those hourly employees in its stores and AppleCare, were told their annual reviews would be moved up three months and that their pay increases would take effect in early July. The normal review process coincides with the end of Apple's fiscal year in the fall. 

Apple retail workers have started looking to unionize in a small number of stores, seeking higher pay and expanded benefits such as increased vacation time and improved retirement options. On May 25, Apple's head of retail Deirdre O'Brien sent a video message to retail store employees to address those efforts, arguing that while it is workers' right join a union, there could be downsides for workers if they choose to do so. 

Google is using a new process for performance reviews, putting more responsibility in the hands of managers. There's also a new promotion system, allowing managers to complete a form assessing whether an employee has shown the skills required for elevation. 

Microsoft Corp. said it plans to "nearly double" its budget for employee salary increases and boost the amount of stock compensation it gives some workers by at least 25%, in an effort to retain staff and help people cope with inflation. 

Amazon announced in February it is more than doubling its maximum base salary for corporate workers. The e-commerce giant said in an internal memo it will now cap its base pay for corporate staff at $350,000, up from its previous maximum of $160,000. 

In addition to base salary, the company's compensation package for executives and professionals includes a two-year signing bonus and, making up a large share of total compensation, restricted stock units that vest over time. Both will remain part of the pay plan, Amazon said.