Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most. - (Mark Twain and me)

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Is free food free?

Theres a saying "Free food is found only in mouse traps".

Google offers free food for all its employees. I think this is one of the most overrated perk. I was telling my
friend the other day, why this doesnt matter, but he didnt seem to believe me.
Even jail offers free food. Whats the big deal?

Remember the company is not non-profit. What does the company get by it?

1. Offering slightly reduced salary(Guessing)
2. Reduced rise/bonus compared to other biggies(Again guessing)
3. Most importantly by giving free breakfast,lunch and dinner, you can make the employee work for more than 8 hrs easily, thereby paying a meal worth wage for few extra hours. Ofcourse
its the employee's option to stay,but an average human tends not to refuse anything "free"

I really don't know about 1 and 2. Its advantageous for the company too, as we maynot know that if salaries/bonus is reduced, but perks are discussed openly. Moreover perks give the perception its better than wats its actually worth.
For example instead of giving a 1000$ bonus, giving a 900$ bonus and a free ticket to a theme park sounds more cooler.(even if the ticket was worth less than 100$). Im not implying the company is evil trying to manipulate, its afterall trying to make its employees happy.

Many new engineers tend to get attracted by these hyped perks and brand sexiness while making a decision. I believe ppl who work for such companies,do so because they really want to. Experienced engineers, will clearly weed out all this unwanted things when changing careers. Much more than free food is needed to convince to work for them. Infact I have heard many ppl say its disadvantageous (esp for family ppl as anyway they have to spend). Intially I thought it was rediciulous, but it makes sense. I have seen many exp. ppl move to startups. They can get great work and they take a good bet that, if the company gets acquired they can reap whole lot of cash. Cash is the only perk which should be looked for. Everything else is just a physcohological trap.

It would be interesting to see whether any attrition happens in Google after 2008, when all the options for the employees who were there when it became IPO has fully vested. I guess many talented ppl will leave to start or work for startups. Remember google has many talented ppl. Talented ppl cannot
be "settling" in big organisations being told to work in feature X of product Y. This true ofcourse for any big organisation which has smart ppl.

yeah, you are right, there is no such thing as "free" in this world... Google must be stupid to give anything away without some sort of ROI on the money spent. But why would employees break their head on what that "psychological trap" is.. i don't think they care.. they get what they want and Google get's its ROI.. everyone's happy :)
yes , rite. but many ppl (esp fresh engineers and not to mention media) seem to overate the "free" food factor. this is true for many companies which offers similar such overrated perks.
agian google was just an example here, im not slandering it as quite convinced its a good employer.
Yeah, yeah. It is a good employer and if I recall right it's the #1 place to work in the world as per some survey in the recent past...btw, when are you switching? :)
not planning to switch. even if, i wudnt reveal such things in a blog :)
Google's brand value is too big right now for someone to leave it. And those added perks sort of ensure that no-one leaves. But you're right -- there is no such thing as a free lunch.
If Yahoo employees get free food in Google, then its really FREE food.
how can yahoo employees have free food in google?
I meant stray Dogs :-)
if the yahoo dog is a spouse of a google dog, then yes possible.
True, psychologically, people get addicted to the "free" stuff. But how long can it go? Won't employees start asking for something else to be free after some time? First, the pantry and coffee became free, now, its food. What next? :)
talking about food, our eternal argument is being played out again here
I actually completely agree with all the 3 points that you mentioned and the "psychological trap" that you pointed out.

Not just food all the other perks too and I am not just referring to Google here.
Interesting post Arun (my namesake!)! #3 is what I would also think as the primary reason.

But if free food means masal dosai, and other delicious food - wouldn't we mind being suckered in :)

But yes psychological trap it is indeed. But not as big as the other overused one stock options. Particularly stock options as a bonus is the biggest rip off. We are being rewarded for doing a good job by options which vest in 3-5 years. So zip now, and may zip later (but maybe not so for google ;)). Net effect is rope you in for few more years with more castles in the air. Where is the logic? Atleast with free food you fill your tummy.
Yes stock options is another rip off. But it seems to be rather norm these days. Stock options can be very useful in startups in the event of acquisition or company going public or atleast in a growing company.
Yeah they pretty much useless in stable companies.

- Arun(with deep under water options since I joined my employer)
Stock options at startups are sort of like lottery albeit with a much much better potential for success. Still - more like a lottery.

I was talking specifically about options for bonus instead of cash. Unless they are 'over the water' when given(which is not always possible as there are SEC rules), it doesnt seem right. It seems like playing with employees' psyche and dreams of big payout (i.e. desire for money). Sort of like casinos and con-artists :)
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