From TikTok to JPMorgan, these companies are ending lavish employee perks amid economic uncertainty

October 19, 2022, 6:24 PM UTC
Google is known for its employee perks like free meals, on-site gyms, and nap pods.
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Gone are the days of free catered meals or first-class travel for workers. Companies like Goldman Sachs and Salesforce are cutting back on a number of employee perks, many of which were first offered in the early days of the pandemic as companies jostled for top talent and to retain existing staffers. 

Businesses are now scrutinizing expenses, reassessing budgets, and looking for areas to slash costs amid economic uncertainty.

The about-face comes during hiring slowdowns and job cuts across industries. Goldman plans to cull between 1% and 5% of its worst performers (though likely on the lower end of that range), while Meta is weeding out employees deemed underperforming. Despite a still tight labor market—unemployment was at 3.5% in September—some say the pendulum is swinging back to employers.

Several companies are targeting in-office perks they no longer consider necessary for a remote-first or hybrid workforce. A July survey from Gartner found that 72% of chief financial officers plan to cut real estate and facilities management budgets by the end of the year, the highest of any corporate function. Employers like Meta and Google have cut perks primarily only accessible on campus, like free laundry services and meal stipends.

While workers haven’t always been receptive to the extra perks companies offer to woo new talent, many lament the reversal after years of being accustomed to the royal treatment. Here’s a breakdown of companies that have sunset popular employee perks.

Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs has been relentless in its quest to get employees back to the office. Now the bank is slowly chipping away at perks it instated earlier in the pandemic to persuade bankers to return to in-person work. 

In mid-April, Goldman informed employees it would end its free lunch and breakfast service and, instead, increase its “out of hours” meal stipend from $25 to $30, provide snack pop-ups, and offer “support a local restaurant” days. 

After Labor Day weekend, the bank ended its complimentary grab-and-go coffee station in the lobby of its Manhattan headquarters and free daily car rides to and from the office, first introduced at the start of the pandemic. 

Employees were not happy with the decision. “RIP to another pandemic perk for junior bankers,” one junior Goldman banker told the New York Post. “I’m sure the partners still don’t have to pay for their coffee—or anything in their fancy dining hall.”

To the bank’s credit, it started offering senior staffers unlimited vacation time in May and two extra vacation days for junior employees.


Not all companies removing perks are forcing employees back into the office. Salesforce told employees in early October that it’s axing well-being days—a monthly paid day off for engineers and technical staff—in fiscal year 2024. 

The company says it encourages employee health and well-being in other ways, including embracing flexible work arrangements and requesting that employees take time off. The cloud-based software company has yet to enforce any return-to-office mandates, allowing employees to work wherever they desire, so long as teams stay in the same time zone.


The tech giant is well known for employee perks like free meals, on-site gyms, and its famous nap pods. In an attempt to get employees back to the office earlier this year, it made grand gestures, including hosting a private Lizzo concert. The company is now pulling back on spending, citing economic concerns. Google told senior managers in an email made public in September to limit employee travel to “business critical” trips and no longer approve travel for social functions, team offsites, and in-person events that offer virtual options.

CEO Sundar Pichai also told employees in an all-staff meeting that he wants to “simplify the company” and improve employee productivity by 20%.

Employees pushed back on the cuts and questioned why the company was limiting travel and entertainment in a late-September all-hands meeting. Pichai responded that the company was tightening its belt ahead of tough macroeconomic conditions. But he also noted that ending some perks doesn’t mean the tech giant’s culture will change. “I remember when Google was small and scrappy,” he told staffers. “We shouldn’t always equate fun with money.”


After disappointing fourth-quarter results in July, Microsoft chief financial officer Amy Hood said the company will prioritize growth “while maintaining intense focus on operational excellence and execution discipline.” Microsoft previously announced hiring freezes for some of its teams and, on Tuesday, announced it would lay off 1,000 of its employees.

In August, managers reportedly told employees that the company was targeting spending on business travel, outside training, and company gatherings as it trimmed its budget. One employee reported that a manager footed the bill for food and drinks at a recent team picnic instead of the company, which covered such expenses in the past.


Just one month after TikTok mandated that employees return to the office at least twice a week, the video-sharing platform announced it would end its $45 daily meal stipend for employees outside its Los Angeles and Mountain View, Calif., hubs. The company said it plans to introduce office catering instead. Some employees reported that TikTok is no longer reimbursing them for wi-fi and gym bills either, though a spokeswoman at the time said there wasn’t a companywide change for those expenses.


This year has been rough for Netflix. The streaming giant reported its first subscriber losses in over a decade in April and lost over 1 million subscribers for the quarter ending in June. Operating expenses for the streaming giant rose to $23.5 billion in 2021, up 15% from 2020.

As a result, Netflix laid off more than 450 staffers this year, cut back on real estate investments—closing its Salt Lake City office—and is clamping down on free corporate swag. The company has limited the price tag for Netflix-branded items employees can order, such as coffee mugs and sweatshirts, to $300.


In August, Twitter’s chief financial officer Ned Segal warned employees they might only receive half of their annual bonus this year. The company ties its bonuses to performance against revenue and profitability targets and blamed financial performance for the potential bonus cut.

The social media platform is currently in a drawn-out legal battle to complete a $44 billion sale to Elon Musk.


Meta, the parent company of Facebook, informed employees in March that it’s scaling back several free services offered before the pandemic. One of those perks is free laundry and dry cleaning, which a Facebook spokeswoman once touted for making “people’s lives easier.” The company also changed the end time for free employee meals to 6 p.m., from 6:30 p.m. 

Office real estate hasn’t been spared either, especially as the company pushes into the metaverse more forcefully. Meta announced in early October that it would downsize its offices and plans to increase employee wellness stipends from $700 to $3,000.

Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan

Both banks have scrapped a pre-pandemic perk loved by employees: free sports tickets.

Top performers enjoyed complimentary access to U.S. Open tournaments or Major League Baseball games, but employees say the banks are now only doling out tickets if a client accompanies them.


Bloomberg told employees in an October email that it’s ending its free lunch program. The financial media company began offering $20 meal stipends to in-office workers in April 2021, though the New York City, Princeton, N.J., and San Francisco offices already served lunch daily. The company said it would keep “snacks and treats” on hand and roll out “more wholesome and exciting offerings” shortly.

Sign up for the Fortune Features email list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews, and investigations.

Read More

Great ResignationDiversity and InclusionCompensationCEO DailyCFO DailyModern Board