Technology companies have long been among the most generous with employee perks, dangling carrots ranging from unlimited leave to free meals.
The reasoning was that hiring the best talent was hard, keeping them was even harder in an ultra-competitive industry and required more than just a relaxed dress code and stock options.
In China, tech companies have been known to send employees to Europe for team building exercises. Others hand out the latest iPhones to employees as a reward. The flip side of the perks was the hard-charging “996” culture, short from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week.
At Beijing-based search-engine operator Baidu, extravagance is under review. Once ranked among the biggest tech companies in China along with Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings, the company founded by Robin Li Yanhong has seen its stock price slump 34 per cent this year. After a first-quarter loss and warning by Li at the start of the year that “winter is coming,” the company is in cost-cutting mode.