Perhaps the strongest business argument against perk mania is that if you're going to spend that much money on perks, at least make them performance-based. I can buy that. But why should that principle apply only to the rank and file?
Last September The Street published an interesting article by Eric Jackson about Whitman's tenure at eBay. He writes that "something happened in Whitman's last four years on the job in which her pay became dramatically disconnected with eBay's stock price and her perks started to go through the roof." From 2005 to 2008 eBay's stock declined 59 percent, while at the same time, Jackson alleges, "Whitman's interest had drifted away from increasing the stock price of eBay to increasing her cash compensation and perks." According to Jackson, in her last two years, this included nearly $1 million per year in expenses incurred by flying around on the corporate jet for personal business.
Yet in Whitman's diatribe about frugality, she has the gall to write this about her reign at eBay: "We had Bagel Wednesday, and we had to plead for those."
Yes, this may well be a time for belt tightening, and most people I know who work in IT are feeling more than a little constricted around the middle. But why can't execs and everyone else play by the same rules? And if that's not possible, please refrain from gratuitously advising companies to stop sharing the wealth with their employees when business is good.