As the world slips into what is at least a severe recession, even some of the most successful companies are taking some precautionary measures. For starters, Google has laid off a small number of workers, most recently a couple hundred sales and marketing folk. They’ve also cut back some of their generous cafeteria and child care offerings. The tricky part may be figuring out how to take these cost cutting measures without destroying some of the goodwill they built up. One trick may be to use cool employee gifts, which have a high perceived value, but cost a lot less over the long run than serving up food all day.
Having events that explicitly celebrate the workforce, like this Sum of Google event (photos on flickr, via Search Engine Land). Again, having regular events to celebrate employees is probably significantly less expensive than providing other perks day in and day out. Commemorating events with t-shirts and other items can also probably extend the lifetime of the goodwill they generate. There’s also the added benefit of having a more explicit message, a celebration of their employees, rather than simply a perk that turns into something they take for granted.