Google boss tells workers they don’t need money to have fun

Google CEO Sundar Pichai is shown sitting in a red chair at the 2022 Code Conference.

It’s easy to tell the workers that fun doesn’t have to cost money when you have a lot of money, I daresay.
Photo: Jerod Harris (Getty Images)

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who leads one of them the world’s richest companiesvery likely do not want to talk about money to their employees while the Big Tech giant is in the middle cut costs and reduce employment. But since employees asked, he wants them to do one thing: stop equating “fun” with “money.”

Pichai’s commentsmade during an all-hands meeting with the entire company earlier this week, emerged in a new report from CNBCwho obtained an audio recording of the meeting. At the meeting, which Pichai held in New York with a live audience of Googlersemployees asked the CEO why the company was “nickel-and-diming” them by limiting travel and cutting entertainment budgets and benefits, especially at the time when the company had “record profits and huge cash reserves.”

In response, the Google chief said the company was simply “being a little more responsible” amid one of the toughest macroeconomic situations of the past decade.

At another point in the meeting, Pichai talked about how cost cutting affected fun at work. He referred to the days when Google was “small and scrappy” in his attempt to justify changes to the company’s culture and benefits.

“I remember when Google was small and scrappy,” Pichai said at the meeting, as reported by CNBC. “It wasn’t always fun — we shouldn’t always equate fun with money. I think you can go into a hard-working startup and people can have fun, and it shouldn’t always equate to money.”

The question of company benefits is not without foundation. For years, Big Tech employees at Google and elsewhere have enjoyed unimaginable benefits, at least for us farmers. These include on-site massage therapists, cooking classes, home exercise and art programs, according to The “Benefits” page on Google Careers.

It’s not clear if any of those perks will go away, though some swag is saying goodbye. Google officials speaking at the all-hands meeting told employees to expect smaller and more casual holiday and New Year’s celebrations, specifically instructing them to “try not to go over the top.”

As for the restrictions on travel, some Google employees pointed out that telling workers was counterintuitive they had to follow the company’s guidelines for returning to the office, but then also emphasize that it was not necessary to travel or “contact in person.” Back in April, Google announced that workers would have to at least be in the physical offices three days a week.

Pichai said he understood the new travel policy was not ideal. He explained that if seeing each other in person would help employees work better, they could do so at times.

“If you haven’t seen your team for a while and it would help your work by getting together in person, I think you can do that,” the Google boss said. “I think that’s why we don’t say no to travel, we give discretion to the teams.”

In particular, Google officials said the company did not plan to make any changes when it came to employee raises, equity and bonuses, pointing out that it would continue to pay employees at “the top end of the market so we can be competitive.”

Pichai echoed the sentiment, saying the company was “committed” to take care for employees. That likely includes the highest-earning executives, who in 2021 earned a total compensation of between at least $14 million and more than $28 million, according to the parent company The archives of the alphabet with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Pichai’s total compensation was $6.3 million last year.

The Google boss did not respond employee questions whether the company will cut the executive salary.

Gizmodo reached out to Google for comment on Saturday, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

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