Can you compete for top talent with Google-like companies?

GoogleIn today’s San José Mercury News, reporter Dean Takahashi shares what he learned on a recent Google tour. In addition to top wages and stock incentives, here’s what Google provides:

  • Free haircuts
  • Free on-site medical care
  • Free gourmet food all day, including low-fat and organic dishes
  • Access to shared umbrellas, scooters, bikes and shuttles for transportation between sites
  • Free child care
  • Free personal training in their free onsite gym, with workout pools and volleyball courts
  • Free lectures by thought leaders, from Bill and Hillary Clinton to fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg
  • Subsidized onsite massages
  • Pets at work
  • Onsite laundry

You may think that all this encourages people to be workaholics. In the very competitive Silicon Valley, your intellectual talent makes or breaks you. Google has gone out of their way to find out about their employees’ life style and how to make their lives easier. With reduced stress, employees can focus more on their work. And while you could argue that this encourages people to stay at work longer, the truth is many people work long hours anyway, so to have some of the life-maintenance issues made easy (child care, laundry, exercise), it helps them have some balance. Even if that balance is mostly included within Google’s walls.

While you may not have a local competitive company that provides all these benefits, there is probably at least one that offers more than you do. So what can you do to attract and keep top talent? Without going bankrupt in the process?

One of the perks always near the top of the list for high achievers is how they can continue to grow their skills. Unfortunately, many companies ignore this data and don’t invest any or much into providing meaningful learning opportunities. Some managers think sending someone to a one-day public seminar will pay big dividends. While it’s better than nothing, it doesn’t provide nearly the ROI that other learning opportunities can, for less, the same or slightly more money.

If you’d like to review my comparison of the three major solutions for training, click here.

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