astorsnk 6d
>> > Pichai was asked, in a question that was highly rated by staffers on Google’s internal Dory system, why the company is “nickel-and-diming employees” by slashing travel and swag budgets at a time when “Google has record profits and huge cash reserves,” as it did coming out of the pandemic.

What is this weird obsession with 'swag' in tech companies? My company sends packs of it on a regular basis as a motivational tactic. It's generally not stuff I need, or want, it's wasteful, and there are much better ways the company could be spending that money (and the HR/marketing employees time). I've stopped adding my address to the list at this point when they ask for it.

bko 6d
> Pichai was asked, in a question that was highly rated by staffers on Google’s internal Dory system, why the company is “nickel-and-diming employees” by slashing travel and swag budgets at a time when “Google has record profits and huge cash reserves,” as it did coming out of the pandemic.

What you focus on can also help you attract a certain type of employee. The best engineers I know want to work on interesting problems. I know plenty of people (myself included) that took pretty drastic pay cuts to work in a more interesting space. To be fair, we were all making above our needs at the time, but the point remains, good engineers care a lot about the things they working on.

As a company becomes successful, they should share the gains with those that helped get them there. But no firm is completely closed, it has to attract new people. And the sell to new employees often overly focuses on money and perks.

The other problem I see is that companies can fall into the trap of focusing too much on inner reflection and feedback. This leads to a lot of heavy handed happiness initiatives that end up just being chores (e.g. forced team bonding, endless happiness surveys, feedback, etc). I can't speak for non-technical employees, but in my experience the best engineers care most about an interesting product space, autonomy and respect. And colleagues matter as well. So even if you have all this, if your values aren't shared by your peers, its a big negative. For instance, if your peers are more interested in advancing politics at work or exploiting perks, it will create tension with those that just want to do meaningful work.

So I think Google's shift is a net positive. Sure it'll upset some employees that care more about catering, travel and perks than their actual work, but that's fine.

mrj 6d
I remember when my old company cut the "swag" to the tune of about $100,000 a year. The CFO was proud of himself but the work environment wasn't great before that, which lead to a few key people leaving. They had stayed not for swag but the social parts of the job were keeping people happy. A few more followed them. It wasn't long before half of the tech team had gone.

At the time, we were spending about 40k for recruiter fees to replace each engineer. During my exit interview, I asked the CFO if he thought that math worked out. He had some regrets.

qbasic_forever 6d
> "Pichai, who expressed some annoyance during the meeting, said “I remember when Google was small and scrappy,” and added that, “We shouldn’t always equate fun with money."

Put your money where your mouth is, recommend the board make your CEO salary and compensation the same as when Google was 'small and scrappy' in the early years. Lead by example.

xiphias2 6d
A long time ago at Google ,,fun'' was equal to user and customer obsession (looking at logs and other data and trying to understand how to make the products better).

Sundar is an amazing sales person and PM, but Google went too much on the PM/Sales side and puts too much pressure and impossible amount of work on engineers (I started my last quarter by knowing that I won't be able to finish most of the OKRs that were put on by other people from other teams to me, I signaled to my TL, but I didn't care at that point as I was planning to quit anyways).

The pressure is so high that the best engineers and engineering managers there that I know are moving to research where they are left alone to do great and fun stuff.

dontreact 6d
Huh I was at this meeting and it didn’t seem heated.

To me it felt like a CEO explaining difficult choices and the reasoning behind them.

awestroke 6d
Money for me, but not for thee. During times of record profits and huge cash reserves, difficult choices must be made. If you are not passionate about making stakeholders and leadership more money while they decrease spending on you, then you need to rethink your priorities!
standardUser 6d
Lodging in city centers has become outrageously expensive and I talked to several people at Meta recently who were struggling to find decent hotels within their travel budgets. If I had to stress out about affording a room during a mandatory work trip, I'd be pissed too. If you can't afford to put your staff up at a decent hotel near your office, don't make them travel.
jononomo 6d
Last year I signed up for YouTube premium, but cancelled it after a few months.

Then, a few months later, I noticed that Google was still billing me -- so I put in a complaint and explained the problem and pointed out the receipts I had... and they just rejected my complaint after "careful review" (lol) and didn't reimburse my money.

It was only about $75, but I remember thinking to myself that Google is obviously going to &%^.

I felt like I had no recourse and Google had just stolen $75 from me and then told me to #$%^ off.

ren_engineer 6d
he's been CEO for the last 7 years, any drastic culture change is on him.

Funny to watch these CEOs try to shift blame for their failures recently. All these companies went on crazy hiring sprees for no real reason and now are crying about "deadweight" employees. Perhaps the people who approved the hiring plans are who should be blamed?