End of free coffee, snacks and yoga: How the ‘perkcession’ is affecting European workers

By Kirstie McDermott

In early 2020, CRM company Salesforce trumpeted the launch of Trailblazer Ranch, a woodland retreat on 75 acres in northern California.

The company said it was an “exciting new gathering place where employees can forge trusted relationships with their colleagues, learn from one another, get inspired, grow in their career, get trained on the company, and give back”.

That all sounds great, but by February 2023, the company said sayonara to the ranch. No more hiking and yoga for staff, and at Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, speciality coffee baristas were axed too.

Work perks and benefits reductions keep coming as part of wider belt-tightening measures.

At big tech firms such as Google, Twitter and Meta, all of which have extensive operations across many European countries, deep cuts have been implemented.

These have impacted staff numbers, with thousands of workers being made redundant across the bloc. Those job losses have garnered millions of column inches, but less well-publicised have been the reductions in employee perks and benefits.

Welcome to the “perkcession”.

Tech workers, used to easy access to snacks, coffees, in-office massages and laundry facilities could be accused of being pampered, but if your employer has always included these perks as standard, it’s not hard to see how this can contribute to job security anxiety, reduced loyalty and increased stress.

Cost-cutting measures

Meta’s “year of efficiency” is in operation as the company seeks to cut costs across the board. Gone are perks including on-site laundry, and the free food budget has been trimmed.

At Google, a “multi-year” effort to reduce costs is in force. Spending on its cafeterias, in-office leisure like yoga and massages, and the frequency of laptop replacements are all affected. Stationery too, is taking a hit: staplers and tape will no longer be available on print stations.

Deep cuts have also been implemented at Twitter, where a fertility benefit has been slashed by 50 per cent. Commuting perks have been scrapped, as has the ability to expense meals.

Twilo has rolled back an allowance to spend on wellness and books, and Goldman Sachs has done away with free breakfast and lunch.

The landscape in Europe

European workers already benefit from paid annual leave, flexible working hours, healthcare coverage and pension plans and sick leave.

These differ depending on the country you’re in – for example, in Germany, you can’t work more than 48 hours per week and the statutory minimum entitlement for annual leave is 24 working days per year.

In Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden, workers are entitled to 25 days of annual leave each year, and France’s “right to disconnect” legislation means that those working for a company with over 50 employees don’t have to check, send or reply to emails out-of-hours.

With valuable benefits baked in for European workers, those more intangible perks like in-office beer and pizza, games consoles and free coffees may not seem so important.

But one study found that over 60 per cent of employees say that they are extremely important to their employer loyalty.

As a result, employers are looking to bridge gaps with ideas like early-finish Fridays. Recent data from insights firm Adzuna found that in March, more than 1,400 UK job postings mentioned an early finish on a Friday as a benefit.

Flexible working setups are another area where companies can win with employees: a recent McKinsey survey found that 87 per cent of employees would take the opportunity to work remotely if it was offered.

According to CIPD’s 2023 Reward Management Survey, the top five most popular employee benefits this year in the UK are flexible working, an employee assistance programme (EAP), free eye tests/eyecare vouchers, a workplace pension with a minimum of 6 per cent employer contribution, and death in service support, or life assurance.

Benefits that matter

Employers who want to cut costs on incidental expenses can deliver benefits back to their staff in the form of comprehensive DE&I (diversity, equity and inclusion) programmes.

Increasingly, this is not merely a nice to have, but an essential, as Deloitte’s Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey points out.

Both generations say that corporate social responsibility is important to them, and they want to work for companies and organisations that share their values.

Mental health assistance is another area where Europeans want their employer to step up to the plate. The European Commission says that the total cost of mental health problems is estimated at more than €600 billion across the 27 EU countries and the UK.

And with the rapid rise of generative AI tools and fears about jobs being replaced by artificial intelligence, workers want clear career progression plans, and learning and development support.

Stipends for professional certifications or further qualifications is another aspect of a benefits program that is of real value to employees.

To discover a role that wraps up all your requirements, check out the Euronews Jobs Board, where you can find thousands of open jobs, all across Europe, just like the three below.

Zalando is seeking a Data Analyst – Editorial Content Experience in Berlin. In this role you’ll work on a new editorial project on the Content Analytics team.

As part of a multi-year transformational shift in how Zalando releases, elevates, and provides context around its most exciting brands and assortment, you will define how the data of this editorial content on website and app is tracked, build relevant monitoring, and run deep dives or experiments to analyse the performance and derive insights.

At Skyscanner in Edinburgh, an opportunity exists for a Design Operations Manager. You’ll lead daily product design management of some of the key strategic areas of the Skyscanner business.

You’ll be working closely with a core team of product designers, content designers, and user researchers to facilitate high quality design delivery of product features and capabilities.

A digital hospital in Amsterdam is seeking a Lead Business Analyst to translate needs and problems into sustainable business solutions. The aim is ultimately to revolutionise modern healthcare across the Netherlands.

You should have a wealth of experience in domain modulating, relational databases, problem analyses and setting up requirements. Also knowledge of designing processes and using development methods and packages would be an advantage.

_Discover even more opportunities on the Euronews Jobs Board and unlock your career potential today _


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *