Unity lays off 4 percent of its workforce to realign its resources

Unity has laid off hundreds of employees in its offices across the globe, according to Kotaku. The video game software development company known for its popular game engine has reportedly let around 300 to 400 staffers go so far. Layoffs are still ongoing, sources said, so those numbers may be higher by the time the company is done. Unity has confirmed to Engadget that it’s “realigning some of [its] resources,” which has led to the dismissal of approximately 4 percent of its entire workforce. That’s consistent with the report that it has let around 300 people go, since its LinkedIn page lists 8,048 employees.

The company told Engadget:

“As part of a continued planning process where we regularly assess our resourcing levels against our company priorities, we decided to realign some of our resources to better drive focus and support our long-term growth. This resulted in some hard decisions that impacted approximately 4% of all Unity workforce. We are grateful for the contributions of those leaving Unity and we are supporting them through this difficult transition.”

While the mass dismissal affects Unity’s entire workforce, Kotaku said it’s mostly concentrated on its AI and engineering divisions. On Blind, the anonymous messaging board used by workers in the tech industry, posters claiming to be former Unity employees said they were asked to hop on a Zoom call with a manager and an HR personnel. They lost access to their company Slack and email and had to surrender their laptops within 48 hours, but they were apparently given 30 days to find a new role within the company. According to Kotaku, giving them 30 days to find a new role wouldn’t help because the company has instituted a hiring freeze, but Unity told us that’s not true at all. 

One of the publication’s sources said there’s a lot going on within Unity at the moment, including mismanagement and “strategic pivots at a rapid, unpredictable rate.” Whatever the reason is for its reorganization, Unity’s layoffs are just the latest in a string of job cuts across the tech industry. Niantic also recently laid off around 90 employees, or 8 percent of its workforce, to streamline its operations. Meanwhile, Netflix’s latest round of job cuts due to slowing revenue growth had affected 300 staff members. 

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AI-driven HR seeks to balance ‘human’ and ‘resources’

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Human resources (HR) is an area that is ripe for automation, and in particular, the kind of automation made possible by artificial intelligence (AI). HR, after all, is a cost center at most organizations, which means organizations are always looking for ways to keep costs as low as possible.

And yet, HR is rife with complex, time-consuming processes that, so far, have required the unique logic and intuitive thinking that only humans can provide.

A New World

But all that is changing with the newest generations of AI-driven HR platforms. Globality’s Sonia Mathai notes that everything from hiring and onboarding to scheduling and benefits management, and all the way to termination and access control, AI is creating a new brand of HR that is leaner, more accurate, and less costly than traditional HR.

For one thing, she says, AI-driven HR is available 24/7, delivering user-friendly services via fully conversational chatbots that provide immediate responses to most questions with no wait-listing. At the same time, AI can provide a more personalized experience due to its access to real-time data. And as seen with AI in other business units, all of this allows human reps to shed the rote, repetitive aspects of the job to focus on more creative, strategic solutions to endemic issues.

HR is such an important function at most companies that it should not be deployed lightly or haphazardly, according to Thirdera CIO Jeff Gregory. In a recent interview with Venture Beat, he pointed out that HR acts as the “steward of a company” and maintains the pulse of the health and development of employees. So it must consistently present the right information even when employees do not ask the right questions. For this reason, AI must learn the ins and outs of HR processes and resource utilization just like any employee, which is why it is best for it to start small and then work its way up to more complicated and consequential functions.

Be careful that AI doesn’t get you into legal trouble as well, says Eric Dunleavy, director of litigation and employment services at DCI Consulting Group, and Michelle Duncan, an attorney with Jackson Lewis. It’s one thing to use AI to prescreen applications, evaluate interviews, and mine social media. It’s quite another to have it decide who gets hired or promoted, particularly with the numerous examples of AI showing bias in regards to race, gender, age, and other factors. In the end, it is up to the company to ensure that all employees, whether human or digital, abide by established laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Crunching Numbers

Perhaps the most profound impact AI will have on HR is in analytics, rather than hiring or employee self-service tools. At its heart, HR is a numbers game, according to Erik van Vulpen, founder of the AIHR Academy, and AI is a whiz with numbers. For instance, AI can delve deep into turnover data to divine why employees are leaving and what can be done to correct it. As well, AI can assess the impact of learning and development programs, or determine which new hires will become top performers.  Ultimately, this will replace the “gut feeling” approach to decision-making in traditional HR shops to one that is more data-driven and quantifiable.

It’s been said that employees are the enterprise’s most valuable resource. In this case, organizations should proceed with caution when deciding how quickly and how thoroughly they want to integrate AI into their HR processes. People who take their jobs seriously might not maintain that attitude if they feel they cannot get a fair shake from an algorithm.

The best way to avoid this is to ensure that AI is trained to deliver positive outcomes, preferably ones that benefit the individual and the organization alike. If this is not possible, then there should be mechanisms in place, either human-driven or artificial, explaining why a given result has emerged and what the employee may do to alter it.

In the end, we all want to be treated fairly no matter who, or what, is making the decisions.


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