Layoffs

Friday water cooler: The ‘perk-cession.’

Big tech companies are slashing lavish perks in the age of layoffs. But at what cost?
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Francis Scialabba

less than 3 min read

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In an effort to tighten their belts amid tough economic headwinds, tech companies are scaling back on the fancy perks they’ve become synonymous with over the years. There is no more dried mango at Google’s San Francisco office, Meta nixed its free employee laundry program, and it’s curtains for Salesforce’s employee wellness retreat.

Is anyone weeping for the discarded snacks when all the companies mentioned above have let thousands of workers go, as the consequences of the pandemic hiring boom come into focus?

Yes. Yes, they are.

The complaints are no surprise, Jo-Ellen Pozner, an assistant professor of management at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business, previously told HR Brew. She explained that slashing costs on snacks might be an indicator of looming difficulties: “What kind of bigger problem is coming down the pike if we need that much cash on hand, and why is it not being spent on us as employees? Those are questions that destroy trust and destroy the nature of the relationship that employees thought they had with the organization.”

Certainly, the perk-cession may have been somewhat inevitable, even without tech companies hitting troubled waters. The rise of remote work during the pandemic made certain companies ask what purpose their ping-pong tables and free kombucha served as early as 2020. With many Americans working remotely at least part of the time—a McKinsey survey last year found that 58% of US workers have the opportunity to work from home at least one day a week—lavish perks may have had limited utility until workers were called back to the office again.

Hey, you. Yes, YOU, there in the back. What do you make of all this perk talk? Are you scaling back perks at your company to stave off layoffs or other cost-cutting measures? If you have thoughts, join the conversation on HR Brew’s LinkedIn page.—SB

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.