May 19, 2023

Get Back to Perk!

Tech companies are reportedly downsizing employee luxuries

By Ed Goldman

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a number of tech companies that gave lavish workplace perks to their employees are now scaling back—or as the Journal reporter wittily puts it, “The ping-pong tables have turned.”

Going (or already gone) are the 24-hour cafés, the generous number of Futons, the soda fountains, the basketball court, inter-office mopeds, free Uber rides, weekly pedicures, torn-ACL therapy class and plastic surgery discounts. I may have made up one or two of those.

Edgy Cartoon

Away, game!

In any event, we’re doing similar belt-tightening here at The Goldman State even though I’m the only employee (the rest are classified by the IRS as “fictitious consultants”—which is a bit insulting but not as grievous as “suspicious consultants” or, as Hannibal Lecter’s staff was categorized, “nutritious consultants”). 

I should add that my belt has already been pretty tight since Thanksgiving. Of 2017. Accordingly, I’m eliminating these office perks immediately:

– 24/7 access to Fox News in the exercise room. To be honest, it was always counter-productive for me to watch Tucker Carlson while doing chin-ups because the chin-ups are meant to keep my blood pressure at a safe level but just hearing Carlson’s puberty-challenged coloratura voice was enough to make my BP soar into a range previously reserved for giraffes (theirs average 300/180, if you’re keeping score).

So: Done and done—as we used to tell my mom when she asked what she thought of how she’d prepared the lamb chops.

– My office subscriptions to magazines I considered relevant to my practice but now will try to sample online. So ta-ta, Psychology Ptomaine (an instructional guide for careless eaters such as Jack-in-the-Box dumpster divers). Adios, Town & Crunchy (a little-known periodical that told afficionados the best places in their neighborhoods to buy KitKat bars). Adieu, to a particular French fashion magazine I perused from time to time strictly in the spirit of anthropological research. Yes, we’re getting the Elle out of here.

– Why-oh-why did I ever sign that contract with Farm Fresh to You, which delivers vegetable boxes to my home office three times a week? Cauliflower, broccoli and even kale I could handle; but what about cardoon, shiso perilla, malabar and some monstrosity called amaranth? Did I think I was becoming a vegetarian? Anyway, I’ve canceled the boxes and adopted a new mantra: What happens in vegans stays in vegans. Though, due to their diet’s impressive fiber counts probably not for long.

– When I read this online— “Facebook provides $4,000 in ‘baby cash’ to new parents, plus reimbursement for adoption or egg-freezing”—I naturally thought that this was a perk I should be providing to my staff. However, upon further reflection I realized I hadn’t been a new parent in 37 years (and had neither the intention nor likely capability to become one again). And the only time I froze eggs was when I absently put a carton of them in the wrong compartment of my fridge. The upshot is that I decided to simply save the $4,000 and make myself an omelet.

– Unloading the arcade games has proved to be more onerous than I’d imagined. I had no idea when I bought them in the 1990s as self-contained consoles (which I needed to borrow a friend’s truck to pick up) that games such as Street Fighter 2, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong and The House of the Dead would become available as video games. 

Fortunately, I still have that friend—but sadly, he no longer has his truck, which he traded in for an SUV when his wife had triplet girls who swiftly became eager to play rugby. He says he can help me cart off the games, one at a time, now that rugby season, which ran from September through April, has ended.

Maybe I’ll just call a local charity for displaced tech company workers. One of them is bound to have a pickup truck.

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).