Chapter 6: Corporate Culture -The Invisible Hand of the Company Part 8
Shortly after the arrival of Marissa Mayer as CEO, Yahoo started giving free lunches to its employees as a means to change the culture and improve morale.[i]
Google, where she worked for many years is known for having free, very nutritious lunches. It’s a great benefit and while I’ve never eaten there, I did go to the Califia Café, started by a former Google Chef. The food is fantastic.
One writer estimated that Google spent $72 million on food in 2008 .[ii] Why does Google do that? Does anyone think it’s because they care about employees, or are being nice? (Sorry, I realize I am getting that snarky tone again. Normally, in situations like this, I ask my wife read to help me moderate, but since she just got back from a business trip, I’ll spend my time with her catching up and let the chips fall where they may with the tone of the post.)
The benefits to Google include higher morale, a stronger culture, a talking point to keep salaries lower, and a way to keep people close to the office.
And it’s not just food that Google and other companies offer. According to tech enthusiast Jonathan Strickland the Googleplex offers on site haircuts, medical, dry cleaning, laundry (complete with employees bringing in dirty laundry on the weekend), massage, as well as pools, gyms, video games and ping pong. According to Strickland, the strategy is “keeping the employee workforce in the office more often. Give employees enough reasons to stick around and you’ll likely see productivity go up. Why head home when everything you need is at work?”[iii]
These perks are one way to address the difficulty of work life balance by bringing some of the life tasks into the workplace. Is there a downside to this?