Many of my friends work at major (and smaller) tech companies which are notorious for providing perks for their employees which can range from free meals, laundry services, discounts at certain venues, interesting and vibrant office environments, etc.

I, however, have worked in three companies, none of which have provided free meals. I make my own lunches and take them in. I buy and cook my own groceries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

When we get together, it is natural for them to talk about their office life and inevitably the discussion of perks comes up. I usually sit in silence because I don't have the kind of perks that they do. Therefore, I find myself feeling a wide variety of emotions when it comes to this topic.

Jealousy - "I wish I had all the free stuff that they did."

Resentment - "They must be entitled, snobby, rich, elitist folks that can't relate to the other 99% of the world. I can't stand their guts and how they can sit there bragging about their successes while others are struggling to get by."

Self-pity - "I'm so pitiful. I have to spend the time and money to prepare my own drab meals while other people are living Instagram-filter-perfect lives."

Self-righteousness - "At least what I'm doing is building character and instilling hard work and adulthood values in me instead of these people that still have Mommy and Daddy making their meals and taking care of every aspect of life for them."

Anti-establishment - "Companies are only doing this because they want them to stay ridiculous hours and like sheep, they just go along with it. Companies only care about their bottom line and they'll do whatever they need to do to squeeze every ounce of work out of their workers."

Other feelings: "These people are already making so much money and they have low expenses so their lives are picture-perfect while mine is quite ordinary in comparison. Oh, your company takes care of this and this for you? Well, I have to do it myself. Good for you. I hope you feel better about your life knowing that you live in an ivory tower and are out of touch with how 99% of the world's companies work. But you can drive in your Tesla, doing your juice cleanse, on the way to a cushy job while the rest of the world gets by on less than $2 a day.

How do I free myself from these emotions or better manage them? I feel I can be quite passive-aggressive among my friends especially when this type of topic comes up.

  • 6
    I'm not sure that this question is well-suited to this site. Mar 22 '17 at 17:22
  • 4
    I feel the need to nitpick. You're using the word "jealousy" but what you mean is "envy." "Envy" is when you desire something that someone else has. "Jealousy" is when you fear someone will take something of yours from you by someone else. That aside, you should be happy that your friends are doing well, and use their positive experience as something that you can aim for in the future. Keep accruing experience and you'll be able to demand these things in time.
    – sleddog
    Mar 22 '17 at 17:26
  • 11
    This feels a bit like a pity-party. If you want those perks, find a job that offers them. The only thing keeping you down is you.
    – AndreiROM
    Mar 22 '17 at 17:50
  • 8
    "You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them. The only time you should look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough." - Louis C.K.
    – NKCampbell
    Mar 22 '17 at 19:55
  • 1
    If PersonalGrowth.StackExchange.com existed, this would be a great question for there. Mar 24 '17 at 12:23

I think it's important to understand why companies provide perks such as free lunch, on-site happy hours, laundry services, and more. Companies aren't doing this because they are nice, but because they have something to gain by doing it.

All of these perks enable employees to stay at work longer. Companies that offer these perks are hoping that their employees not only stay longer, but do productive work for longer parts of the day. If the workers are salaried, it doesn't matter to the company if they work 8 hour days, 10 hour days, or 12 hour days. If they can invest a small amount of money and to get people to spend more time at work and then turn that into income, they hope to earn more than they are spending on these benefits.

This kind of thinking is not, as you put in your question, "anti-establishment". It's truth.

So you need to ask yourself - are you happy in your current environment? Are you satisfied with your work, your salary, your work life balance, your commute, the benefits that you have?

You also have some benefits. I spent 5 years in defense and aerospace. The in-office perks were minimal (we had free coffee) compared to many other companies in the area, but there were some other great perks that I don't see anywhere else - it easily had some of the best educational and career development, insurance, and retirement plans out of anywhere else, the projects (although using slightly older technologies) were really cool, and most of the people were really smart and experienced. Frame your thinking in terms of the benefits that you do you have that these companies can't provide and make sure you are taking full advantage of the things that you have.

  • 1
    Not only that, but a happy employee is a productive employee. Parties, casino nights, etc carry the price tag in money but help relieve stress and make a more friendly work environment (as you get acquainted with coworkers and don't feel as much isolation or nervousness around them). Less stress and awkwardness means happier employees. Mar 22 '17 at 17:50
  • 2
    @SliderBlackrose Happiness is subjective. Some people don't want to socialize with their coworkers and could case less about parties or social events, yet still be happy at work because they can come in by 8:30 and leave by 5. Mar 22 '17 at 17:52
  • You are not more productive just by staying longer at the office. Otherwise Greece (no offense) would be the biggest economic power in Europe, as the Greek work by far the longest hours on average out of all European nations. Mar 22 '17 at 17:56
  • @ThomasOwens I actually MADE that point to my first major corp. employer. I came in and went home. I didn't do the baseball league, I didn't do poker night. I was content with my coding job. The point was that they OFFER those things in order to make people happy (who may not be). Don't misunderstand, I agree with your answer, just adding to it. Mar 22 '17 at 17:57
  • 1
    @JuhaUntinen No one is saying that spending more time in the office makes you more productive. However, companies gamble and try to enable people to spend more time at the office in hopes that a sufficient number of them will be productive, letting them get a revenue-generating project done faster or putting in more billable hours. The gamble is that they make more revenue on this than they are putting into the perks. Mar 22 '17 at 17:59

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .