Changes at Yahoo Show Who Works for Perks

Changes at Yahoo Show Who Works for Perks March 6, 2013

Drastic changes by Yahoo CEO Melissa Mayer have received a lot of attention in the past week or so. After reviewing the numbers, Mayer found that off-site work productivity was dismal. She decided, for the company’s health, to remove the telecommuting option — for the time being, at least. Yahoo employees must now work in the office, together. Mayer hopes the collaboration and focus will push Yahoo to a more stable future.

Some have voiced approval, including Anne-Marie Slaughter, who wrote in support of Mayer’s decision at The Atlantic:

Marissa Mayer is a CEO first and a woman second. Indeed, she is a role model for many precisely because she made it to the top job. And as a CEO, her first job is to save her company. If she fails in that, the employees she is insisting come in to the office will have no jobs to come in to.

Some have voiced opposition, noting that the change will be especially difficult for parents with young children. More troublesome is that Mayer arranged for her son to receive care on-site, something not likely to be available to all employees. Here’s one response from Kristen Kennedy, who wrote this letter (in jest) to Mayer from her column at The Huffington Post:

You’ve totally inspired me to become a CEO, though, so I can bring her to work and have her privately schooled on site while I work. But until that happens (you can laugh at THAT idea now!), I sometimes have to work from home when she’s sick. She’s a pretty healthy kid, though, so I promise it won’t happen too much. Seriously, I can count on one hand how many times she’s missed school in the last two years. And as long as her fever isn’t too high, I can usually dose her with Tylenol long enough to make it into the office for a few hours before the school nurse calls demanding that I pick her up.

I see both sides. If Mayer doesn’t solidify Yahoo’s place in the market, all jobs will be lost. But Mayer’s decision will be a painful adjustment to parents with smaller children.

Who knows how the changes will play out in-house. Would it be nice if Mayer made some concessions for parents of young children? Certainly. Does she owe it to them? Certainly not. The work-from-home policy was a perk, not a right. But that’s the trouble with perks. The longer you enjoy them, the more accustomed to them you become. Perks eventually turn into standard issue. When these perks-turned-essentials are removed, it hurts.

For Yahoo employees, they are now left with their jobs and each person must decide if they loved the work and want to stay or if they merely loved the perks and want to leave. Tough choices, to be sure!

Removing benefits is painful and gets right down to the root of what we choose and why we choose it. Such lessons emerge from the testing that Job experienced, recorded in Scripture. Satan was convinced that Job remained faithful to God because of the perks God gave him. But what if those benefits and blessings were removed? Satan proposed that the perks were the only ties binding Job’s heart to God. Job’s losses were severe — he lost family, fortune, and friends — but it was revealed that he truly loved God for God, and not for the gifts God gave. The stripping away proved that Job’s heart was tied to God with more than just perk strings.

So it is for each of us, and for Yahoo employees. When the perks are removed, we must deal with the loss and look at what’s left: the motives of our hearts, for good or for ill. And from there, we can move forward.

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