Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Living in a Google paradise

 

From year to year, one and the same corporation is recognized as the leader on the list of most attractive employers. The previous year was no exception. Having conducted a survey among European students, Swedish consulting firm Universum discovered that the most attractive place to work for future economists is hi-tech giant Google.

However, Swedish students of technical profile were more Europe-oriented. They put BMW on top of the list.

Heavenly work conditions for employees at Google's headquarters - Googleplex -have long been a cherished dream of tens of thousands of professionals and hundreds of thousands of managers of the hi-tech industry. Creating the company, Larry Page and Sergey Brin initially laid the principle of absolute freedom in its foundation. No one will be breathing down your neck, and a person is allowed to do almost everything that he or she may want.

For example, those who want to relax in a cafe can choose from 15 different cafes available at Googleplex. When you want to stretch your brain and your body, you can go to the game room where you can play table tennis, build a castle out of Lego bricks, or just rest on soft couches. Swimming pools and gyms near the offices help people keep their shape and get distracted from sedentary work. If anyone needs to take a nap, they can use special capsules that are also available in the offices.

This is just an external and visible side of the Google paradise. The other side of it is the generosity of the company, which seems quite unusual even for such a giant as Google. "Google thinks about best ways to pay more money to its employees, rather than about the ways to sack them, Slate.fr wrote enviously about the methods of motivating Google employees. Moreover, it appears that in the case of the death of a Google employee, the company pays his or her partner a half of the late person's salary for ten years.

However, this generosity and free corporate policies are calculated to the last cent. They have a very simple explanation. Under the conditions of extremely tough competition in IT-industry, each specialist is truly priceless, and the loss of some of them may lead to the collapse of an ambitious project.

The above-mentioned article that appears on Slate.fr tells of the work of a special department, the sole job of which is to invent new ways of pleasing the company personnel. The Department of Human Resources, called the People Operations, works on a strictly scientific basis. The department has a team of analysts working with complex specialized programs and making their own conclusions on the basis of regular surveys 

The efficiency of the department is impressive. For example, when Google faced an increased outflow of female employees, People Operations, having conducted a required analysis, proposed the introduction of additional benefits for women, who leave the company for child care. The department offered to extend paid maternity leave for up to five months (compared with 12 weeks in the past), introduce seven-week "parental" leave, etc. As a result, the number of layoffs among young women staff halved, and the accountant of the company, having counted the final economic effect, found out that Google profited from such a move.

Generosity pays off indeed. It seems that it was Henry Ford, who came to understand the principle first. Ford used to be accused of nearly all deadly sins, including communism. However, Ford once introduced a higher hourly rate at his factories. It appears, though, that many companies do not believe that the generosity principle works. For example, another rating at Fortune magazine, where Google also takes the lead as the company with best working conditions, contains no such IT-monsters like Apple, Amazon and Facebook. Apparently, their owners still hold positions of Ford's opponents, who believed that one should not please employees much.

As a result, survey among Apple Store employees conducted a couple of years ago showed that they were demoralized, poorly paid, poorly treated and constantly exhausted. Sales people from Apple Stores bombarded interviewers with lists of claims that included excessive work hours, because the company prefers to save on the number of sales people, discrimination against veterans who were allegedly paid less than newcomers, small medical insurance and much, much more.

However, the complaints from Apple Store employees, who get $15 per hour, seem ridiculous against the nightmare that employees of Foxconn, Taiwan, have to go through every day. It is Foxconn that actually produce the gadgets with the famous logo. Even now, they receive an average of $290 or at best $350 a month for irregular working days that last for 12 or even 16 hours.

Meanwhile, all recent improvements of working conditions that could be seen at Foxconn factories have been conducted under the public pressure. Measures were taken following a wave of suicides among employees a few years ago. It might well be the same: business does not provide charity even to employees.

Ilya Nikonov

Bigness

Read the original in Russian