Amidst a period of economic uncertainty and a dramatic shift in focus towards generative AI, Microsoft Corp has announced it will not be offering pay raises to full-time employees this year. Despite the decision, the tech giant stated it would maintain its bonuses, stock awards, and promotions for the fiscal year.

This announcement comes following a major layoff in January where Microsoft decided to let go of 10,000 employees, as part of the tech industry’s bracing for a turbulent year ahead. The job losses were spread across multiple divisions and various parts of the world, mirroring a general trend of layoffs and job freezes in the tech sector.

Addressing the pay freeze, a Microsoft spokesperson said, “We recognize 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, our business, and our future.”

At present, Microsoft, along with OpenAI — the creator of ChatGPT and recipient of billions of dollars in funding from Microsoft — is heavily invested in integrating AI technology into its Office products and search engine Bing. This move is seen as the company’s transition into the new era of AI amidst rising competition and global macroeconomic uncertainties.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, in an internal email cited by Insider, affirmed the company’s commitment to driving a major platform shift in AI. However, he also noted a change in the bonus and stock award budget. “We will maintain our bonus and stock award budget again this year; however, we will not overfund to the extent we did last year, bringing it closer to our historical averages,” Nadella said.

The decision to forgo pay raises in a year of high inflation rates is a strategic move that may have significant implications for the tech giant’s workforce. The tech industry is under substantial pressure from the economic downturn, and this move highlights the challenges that companies face in balancing financial prudence with employee retention and satisfaction.