Stranger Than Fiction is our series exploring the nuances of modern work through satire and fiction.

From: Patrick Lemmons, Wellnezz CEO

Subject: Company update

Good afternoon everyone, 

This is not an easy email to write, but it’s a nonetheless necessary one. As you know, the economy is not in the best shape right now. Like many companies, we have no choice but to make some changes in order to keep the Wellnezz Wagon running. 

The first change, as you know, was executed—no pun intended, excuse me—two weeks ago when we laid off 35% of our workforce. As I stated in my email announcing that development, this was not a decision we took lightly. After all, who could have predicted that the meteoric growth we experienced early in the pandemic wouldn’t last? I still believe that demand for an anthropomorphic, Clippy-inspired Chrome extension that looks like a germ and reminds you to wash your hands every thirty minutes should be recession-proof, but I suppose I stand corrected. 

I wish I could say that our company-wide changes would end with these layoffs, but there’s still more work to do. Effective immediately, we will be making the following tweaks to our Employee Perks program.

No more home office stipend

Early on in the pandemic, it made sense to set our employees up with a well-equipped home office. A lot has changed since then, however.

For those of you who have used your office stipend, we hope you continue to enjoy whatever luxurious setup you were able to finagle. For everyone else: well, first of all, you snooze you lose, don’t you? This benefit has been available for months and it’s frankly not our fault if you assumed it would be there forever.

And second of all, if you want an “official” office setup so badly, maybe you should, you know, come back to the office. While we have unfortunately had to sell off all of our extra amenities in order to stay afloat, like the ping pong table, the coffee machine, and the blinds covering our floor-to-ceiling, west-facing windows, we do have desks, monitors, and our inimitable Office Culture, which some might say is our most valuable asset. 

We’re scaling back our EAP offerings

Employee mental health is our number one priority. If our employees aren’t at their best, our company can’t be, either. That’s why we initially set up our comprehensive EAP program in 2020: to make sure there were resources in place for employees to get the help they needed when they needed it. 

However, all eras must end, and so too must this one. It’s just too expensive. But fear not; we remain as dedicated to your mental health as ever, which is why our engineers have been hard at work developing an absolutely FREE, employee-facing beta offshoot of our own product, Geremy, which has been repurposed as an AI therapist that you can access straight from your desktop. 

Here’s how it will work: when you’re feeling burnt out, overwhelmed, or hopeless, just type, “I’m feeling burnt out”, “I’m feeling overwhelmed”, or “I’m feeling hopeless” into Geremy’s conversation field, and he’ll reply with one of five predetermined responses, ranging from, “At least you have your physical health—speaking of which, it’s time to wash your hands!” to “Wow, it sounds like you’re really struggling. Imagine how much worse off you’d be if you didn’t have this great job? Maybe it’s time for a perspective shift!”

We hope you’ll all take advantage of this complimentary offering we’ve worked so hard to provide. Mental health is not something anyone should take for granted, and there should be less stigma around using the resources that are available to us. Resources like Geremy.

Our stock option program will be put on hold

Stock options, as you know, are a privilege. Not everyone who has them gets that sweet eventual payday, and some startups don’t offer them at all. As such, we will be pausing our stock option program until further notice, which means your current number of options will be effectively frozen for the time being. 

However, if offering a stock option program has taught us anything, it’s that nothing gets employees excited about working at a startup quite like a poorly-understood perk that has a one in a million chance of paying off. To that end, we will be introducing a new perk: The Wellnezz Lottery Option. This perk allows you the option to contribute $5 a week to a communal lottery pool, which our wonderful People Ops Coordinator will then walk over to the bodega across from our office to buy as many lottery tickets as our combined funds allow. And if we end up purchasing a winning ticket? Well, let’s just say that whatever happens next is up to your imagination. 

Well! That’s all the news I have to deliver, and while I do apologize for any negative feelings these changes may inspire, I believe that we’ll get through this period of hardship stronger than ever!

If you have any questions for me, feel free to email them to my EA in advance of our next All Hands meeting, where we’ll be holding a Q&A session after our company-wide brainstorm to figure out a new tagline for our About Us page (as our current tagline, “You can’t stop the Wellnezz Wagon! Our path to success is indestructible!” no longer reflects our current reality).