Google’s ‘rest and vest’ days for senior employees are over, CEO says. It’s a brilliant idea

‘Rest and Vest’ is arguably the worst kept secret in Silicon Valley. Also known as ‘coasters’, these are institutional workers, usually senior engineers at major tech companies such as Google and Facebook/Meta, who take it easy at their jobs and hang out on the rooftops of companies while riding the wind along with their fellow rollercoasters. take in the sails. collecting a 7-figure salary and an even healthier stock.

The tech Fat Cat story took on a joking reputation when HBO’s “Silicon Valley” got a little carried away. In the show, Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti gets a promotion at the tech giant Hooli, the fictional company inspired by Google. Bighetti was not assigned to any project and instead prefers to waste his days with fellow remnants-and-vesters, getting rich doing little or nothing.

How rest-and-vests became a thing

It’s not just fiction. Reports and interviews with real, real coasters from Google, Meta and Microsoft say it’s more common than you think. “My days started at 11am and I took long lunches,” laughed a former Googler.

It’s happening, others say, because the hulking tech companies can afford it — at least until now. With bottomless pockets, these organizations would have been able to hire or promote the hot shots in emerging fields like AI and quantum computing, not expecting to spend the regular 40+ hours. It’s a “defensive measure” because you’d rather keep top talent, even if it means they don’t stick to the end of their bargain.

Coasters will no longer run

Google was the place for resters-and-vesters. But it looks like it’s coming to an end. At Vox Media’s Code Conference last week, Pichai backtracked on Google’s plan to find efficiencies wherever possible, citing their plan for a “simplicity sprint” and even a possible headcount reduction of up to 20 percent.

With recessions looming and inflationary pressures, there is growing concern about slower growth and fiercer competition. At the conference, Pichai spoke about TikTok and other newcomers to the Chinese market. Things they didn’t have to think about two years ago suddenly become real problems for the big guns.

A number of solutions will be put in place to find efficiencies and survive this economic downtown. One approach may simply be a concerted effort to expose the remnants-and-vesters and call them out. Or get rid of them altogether.

How employees will react

But I say, easier said than done. Pichai and other senior leaders must proceed with caution. Going after people with a militaristic productivity tracking system can easily backfire. People don’t like to be measured and tracked so intensively, especially if their work is knowledge-based. They don’t make widgets. They create ideas.

The devil is in the details of the messages. The change must be shaped in two ways. The first is fairness and leveling the playing field. Stocks are now part of any good D&I strategy. Reminding someone that their underserved contribution is unfair can motivate them to put their weight in the balance. We have a deep-seated aversion to being seen by others as an impostor or defector.

Second, it’s about belonging, another piece of the D&I puzzle. We are humans after all. No one wants to be a social pariah, not even someone who is talented. Contribute, belong, build with your co-creators – this can be a strong motivator to involve people in a more balanced way.

Google and others will have their work cut out for them in creating a new standard of what it means to work at such an organization. In the end, it’s probably a good thing that it’s called the Rest-and-Fortress Secret.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not Inc.com’s.

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