Having Satisfied Employees is about more than Money

The other day I was reading an article on the Business Insider that listed several employee perks that Google employees (i.e., Googlers) receive. The list is impressive and indicative of a company that puts a premium on keeping top talent and can afford to do so. This is an issue that recruiters often deal with as well as they play the role of ‘Jerry Maguire’ in the back and forth negotiations between top talent and future employers.

Further, the cost of hiring can be steep, so if employers can convince top employees to stay this can save a sizable amount of money. However, there are perks that you can provide that won’t lead to financial irresponsibility and those shouldn’t be ignored. No matter how small your business there are ways in which you can improve employee experiences and help foster a productive and pleasant work place. Google provides us a way to think creatively about what workers want.

Important to Know what your Employees Want


Employee Perks Not Just Money

While it may be impossible for most employers to match what tech firms like Google are offering (especially monetarily), I think it’s a great exercise to bring to light the kinds of benefits that Googlers enjoy. It’s critical that HR departments and recruiters get creative when negotiating the kinds of perks that will provide true value for potential employees.

Employers should periodically check-in with their employees to see what their needs are. This is probably a conversation that is rarely had given how busy everyone is. What would make your life working here better? Are there ways we can improve the environment? And so on. As it turns out not *every* fringe benefit has to cost boat loads of money.

So, without further ado here’s a list of a few perks that Google employees listed as their favorites.

Employee Perks that Cost Money

  • Free gourmet food and snacks – coffee and juice bars
  • Rides to and from work
  • Googlers get massage credits for jobs well-done – when a co-worker is particularly impressed with your work they can put in a request for you to have an hour massage for your efforts
  • New parents get a solid break – moms get up to 18 weeks off and dads get 6 weeks off AND employees’ stock continues to vest (and they continue to receive bonuses) while they are on leave
  • Free on-site daycare for children
  • Free fitness classes and gyms – encouraged to participate i organized intramural sports
  • Encouraged to read and continue to learn/grow – free books
  • Googlers can get extended time off to follow their passions – 3 month leave of unpaid time off and Health Care continues
  • Once a “Googler” always a “Googler” – alumni support after folks leave Google – always part of the team
  • If your partner dies – death benefits are provided for survivors that include all stocks being vested immediately on top of the life insurance payout
  • If your partner dies – the surviving spouse continues to get half of the Googler’s salary for the next 10 years (also an additional $1,000/month benefit for any children)

Employee Perks that Aren’t Monetary

  • siliconvalleyperkspost2

    Non-Monetary Employee Perks Important

    Exposure to amazing people and great thinkers

  • Surrounded by driven people who provide the best environment for learning
  • Working with people who have interesting stories to share & a diverse background
  • The 80/20 rule – 80% of employee time is spent on one’s primary job and 20% is set aside working on passion projects that Googlers believe will help the company
  • Encouraged to continue to learn – providing tech talks
  • Once a “Googler” always a “Googler” – an alumni support system after folks leave Google – always part of the team

Key Takeway

If running a small or medium-sized business the primary theme from the ‘Google model’ is the importance of listening to employees and finding out their needs and wants. I’m quite certain that folks in the Google HR department didn’t dream up all of these fringe benefits. On the contrary, some of these probably evolved from employee surveys or just conversations over coffee–just asking the right questions. “What would make you more happy to work here?” “Is there anything you would you like to see added to the benefits package?” “What do you find most rewarding about working here?” “Are there benefits we currently offer that aren’t particularly appealing?” These are conversations worth having on a regular basis with employees.

Finally, all is not lost if employers aren’t in a financial position to offer fringe benefits that cost money. There are things you can do, akin to Google, that your employees will appreciate. Providing opportunities for them to meaningfully connect and engage with their colleagues seems like a start.

In your experience which types of perks/fringe benefits have you found the most successful? What other ideas have you seen in action (non-money based) that were effective?