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What is the 'perk-cession'?

Lily Walton
April 4, 2023

If you think of a company that is famous for offering staff perks, Google will be one of the first to come to mind.

Well, Google employees recently received a memo letting them know that employee perks including free snacks, laundry services and company lunches were being withdrawn, alongside others like fitness classes and personal equipment such as laptops.

Dubbed the 'perk-cession', this is the latest sign that companies are cutting back on staff perks as part of cost-cutting measures as a response to ongoing economic challenges.

At Google, it is also the result of the amount of money being invested in AI development. The memo stated: "This work is particularly vital because of our recent growth, the challenging economic environment, and our incredible investment opportunities to drive technology forward — particularly in AI."

The trend towards reducing staff perks is not surprising given the challenging business environment, but it does raise concerns about employee morale and engagement. Workers who are used to these perks may feel undervalued, which could affect their productivity and overall satisfaction at work.

In response, some companies are looking for creative ways to offer staff benefits without adding significant costs. One approach is to offer flexible working arrangements, such as remote work or flexible schedules, which can improve work-life balance and boost employee happiness.

Others are offering personalised perks, such as wellness programmes, educational support, or professional development opportunities, that align with employee interests and goals. These perks not only boost employee satisfaction but also help retain talent in a competitive job market.

On LinkedIn, Albert Fong from D&I focused tech company Kanarys, said: “From endless free meals and snacks and massages classes, to personal equipment and designated recreation areas, (Google) employees have certainly enjoyed grandiose perks along with high salaries and stock grants. While employees may argue they deserve them, the reality is these perks also created and fostered a huge sense of entitlement, and arguably, a lack of perspective.

“Don't get me wrong. Perks matter, but the right perks matter even more. I'm a strong believer of the importance in building people who then build the business. In the grander scheme of things, there are other benefits employees should fight to preserve such as remote and hybrid work, professional development, and mental health support among others. I'd choose those over yoga classes or endless snacks any day. If employers are smart, they will continue to offer and support work-life balance initiatives. Rule of thumb: People don't stay for perks. They stay with companies who invest in them.”