Best Company To Work For: Money and Perks Like No Other

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2008-08-2132

Profiling the best company in the world.

I’ve had the fortune to work at some great companies, which offered perks that were almost as good as the salaries they gave out. What’s it like at these places? For successful, top-notch companies, rewards abound (to keep employees loyal); and here are some of the extras that can round out one’s compensation package:

  • Free gym and pool
  • Stock options (a piece of the equity pie)
  • Bonus plans
  • Referral bonuses
  • 401K with matching
  • Educational plan
  • Child care services on work campus
  • ESPP
  • Health Reimbursement Plans
  • Flexible Spending Plans
  • Matching donations to charities and schools
  • Relocation assistance
  • Life and disability insurance

These benefits are awesome and can make many hours of toiling away in a cubicle much more palatable. But great as these benefits are, they’re just the tip of the iceberg for a company that has regularly captured the #1 title as “Best Company” in the nation. In Silicon Valley, this is where everyone (from accountants to engineers to web designers) wishes they could work, so I was curious to find out what it really was like to work at a place where nerds rule ;) .

Profile of A Top Company

Fortune’s number one company to work for “sets the standard for Silicon Valley: free meals, swimming spa, and free doctors onsite. Engineers can spend 20% of time on independent projects. Their company is so stinking rich that it continues to ooze cash even while lavishing benefits on its staff. ” They’re also responsible for a good portion of California’s tax dollars.

These are the reasons why Google takes the title as the best place to work:

What’s it like?
Life for Google employees at the Mountain View campus is like college. It feels like the brainiest university imaginable – one in which every kid can afford a sports car (though geeky hybrids are cooler here than hot rods).

Fun, healthful activites
At Google you can work out in the gym; attend subsidized exercise classes; get a massage (by a masseuse or fancy massage chairs); study Mandarin, Japanese, Spanish and French and ask a personal concierge to arrange dinner reservations. Too many amenities to count, including lap pool, rock climbing wall, pool table. Or how about beach volleyball, Foosball, videogames, ping pong and roller hockey twice a week in the parking lot. Oh yeah, dogs allowed.

google pool     google gym

So you’re no longer just a wealthy geek, you’re also a wealthy buffed geek!

~ooOoo~

Fantastic food
Google runs 11 free gourmet cafeterias and offers all its employees free gourmet meals. Company lore has it that Brin and co-founder Larry Page believe no worker should be more than 150 feet from a food source.

google chef     google food station
~ooOoo~

Transportation benefits
How about free Wi-fi shuttle coaches to ferry you from train stations to your work campus? Onsite car washes and oil changes are among the numerous perks Google offers to all its workers. Want to buy a hybrid car? The company will give you $5,000 toward that environmentally friendly end. Oh yeah, get free scooters to travel around campus.

google car wash     google scooters
~ooOoo~

Multi-task with lots of help, on site
You can get your errands done at work. Get a haircut while doing your laundry. Exercise at a workout room with weights and rowing machine, keep stuff at locker rooms, have your kid in child care, get your paperwork done with onsite notaries, your car serviced on site and get checkups with five onsite doctors available, free of charge.

google massage chair     google haircut
~ooOoo~

More money, more rewards for top employees
Refer a friend and you’ll get a $2,000 reward. New parents get $500 in takeout food to ease their first four weeks at home. And what about the 27-year-old engineer who received a million-dollar founders’ award (Google bonus) for her work on a program that searches computer desktops. Then there are those who are coasting, waiting for their stock options to kick in, said to be “resting and vesting.” And despite this all, Google needs to worry about retention! They’re considering starting a sabbatical program and get this — thinking of new career opportunities for the restless (you mean invent new jobs?). It has also institutionalized, among other things, a bevy of compensation incentives, founders’ awards than can run into millions of dollars, and special bonuses.

Get your ideas heard and executed
The Google shuttle bus exists today because an employee got sick of driving to work and scouted out a bus company, then plotted out the routes a shuttle might take. She brought the idea to senior management only after she’d done all the research. Any other company would’ve formed a cross-divisional transportation feasibility committee to study the issue. Google just did it.

~ooOoo~

Now what could possibly beat working for a rich company in Silicon Valley? Well how about working for a rich company anywhere in the world — including in your OWN native country? From the following examples, you can see that you no longer have to go outside of your country to work at Google. If you have the skills such a hot shot employer is looking for, you could be eligible for a golden ticket. And this is why capitalism rules, it affords the ability for massive wealth generation that can be spread to far flung places.

Case in point: these Google employees in India share the culture of the mother company.

Top Company In Bangalore, India

Google’s corporate strategy in India has been described as a “brain drain in reverse.”

A turbaned Sikh relaxes in a massage chair, eyes closed. Interspersed among the cubicles are a foosball table, billiards, darts, a chessboard, and a board game called carrom. A tent-shrouded chair sports a sign, FORTUNES TOLD HERE.

google foosball

A great side benefit to being part of an elite work force? Landing a job at Google is said to increase marriage prospects in a culture where title and income are critical to the practice of arranged matchmaking.

I also really like this logo :) .

google india

Random Philosophical Ramblings On Wealth and Success

Just like a company that has such far reaching tentacles, I think of individuals as influencing their own space, with certain people more able to reach out than others (also in various ways beyond the financial). Companies like Google enable its employees to be in such a fortuitous and influential position.

How loud does money talk? Well let’s look where money and success can take you: if you’ve done well financially, just think of all the influence and power you’ve got in your hands. Though the great majority of us won’t be facing something like the “Google effect”, even some money can exert influence, albeit at a smaller scale. For those of us luckier than others, I wish that good fortune and prosperity will offer a positive effect that extends beyond our own lives.

Copyright © 2008 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Frugal Dad August 21, 2008 at 10:47 am

I used to work for a company that offered many of these same benefits at their “campus” headquarters location. After a while, the “perks” began to feel like ways to blur the line between work and home. Sure, I could get a haircut, go shopping, grab a workout, and get a massage without leaving the office, but is that really healthy?

I’ve since left the company for a more traditional 8:00-5:00 schedule where I’m home for dinner every night, and free on the weekends to spend 100% of my time with my family. That beats any perk they could offer at work!

jim of Blueprint for Financial Prosperity August 21, 2008 at 10:50 am

All those perks are building a strong social relationship between the company and its employees. Some cynics will see the free haircuts, gyms, carwashes, etc. as ways to keep you on campus all the time but I think that’s perfectly fine. The people working at Google are probably more passionate about their work and want to spend as much time there as possible and I applaud them for that.

Silicon Valley Blogger August 21, 2008 at 11:19 am

Ah, to be spoiled! :) Over here, everyone and their brother wants a shot to be part of the Google community.

I even heard how one employee bought 3 houses in a row that were worth several million each for his family. I heard that some of these employees were purchasing entire blocks of real estate. The Google rewards have been great for some of these earlier employees.

These days, people are still wanting to get in. I’ve got a relative who’s applying right now. I hope she makes it in there — would love to hear more of what it’s like!

But ultimately, I’d still prefer to do what I’m doing today. The chance to stay home and work in order to be with family just can’t be beat. Even with less money and no perks (we have to buy our own medical and other coverage), the rewards afforded by flexibility and life/work balance are priceless!

(Of course, someone can argue that if you were a Google slave for a few years or more, you can eventually easily “retire” to do anything you want down the road…)

Fred August 21, 2008 at 4:58 pm

Agreed on the “perks” – are they really perks if you can’t enjoy life outside of work?

Alan August 22, 2008 at 3:02 am

All I want to know is how many hours an average employee spends at the office. I know it may sound like a silly question to some of you. But who knows …

jim of Blueprint for Financial Prosperity August 22, 2008 at 5:38 am

Having perks and a life outside of work aren’t mutually exclusive… if I can get my car washed while I’m at work or get a haircut a mere step away from my office, that’s time I’ve saved.

I have no doubt that Google is a demanding place to work but they do help make the “other stuff” easier to do.

Whether that translates into more time with your family, that depends on you and how effective you are at managing up. :)

Curious Cat Investing Blog August 22, 2008 at 6:31 am

Working at Google seems great. The perks are wonderful. But they are really the icing on the cake I think. The chance to work at a place where engineers are treated with respect and management thinks like (and are) engineers creates an environment so different than in so many corporations where Dilbert’s boss seems to rule instead.

The Baglady August 22, 2008 at 6:44 am

Google is not what it used to be. A lot of the employees that joined recently aren’t paid more than companies like Yahoo or Adobe. A lot of them also have underwater stock options. (Remember when Goog went to $700?) A lot of people I know at Google also feel that the management do not know how to manage and a lot of people are just twiddling their thumbs doing nothing.

Silicon Valley Blogger August 22, 2008 at 6:52 am

@Baglady,

So the bloom is off the rose? I suppose Google is now maturing as a company and in effect, is going through the phases that many fantastic technology companies have undergone in the past (Cisco and Oracle are examples).

Still, if those perks still abound, that’s a lot more than what other companies are offering. I agree that it’s no fun when you’ve got underwater stock options (especially when you receive them at the stock’s high), and the best you can do is discount that as part of your compensation for a while.

TigerTom August 22, 2008 at 11:22 am

Three quarter-years of falling profits and that’s all out the window. Y’come to work to do a job, not amuse yourself.

Financial Discussion August 22, 2008 at 1:49 pm

I worked for a company that offered lots of perks several years ago. All the perks were there to keep us in the office and make us work more. I no longer work for my company – I like my freedom better ;).

Tim August 22, 2008 at 3:13 pm

working in the military on a base is much like all the perks mentioned.

Goran web design August 23, 2008 at 3:10 am

Hope we all take a lesson from the way they treat there people. Businesses are what they are because of their business, no people = no business. So make sure that your people are happy and have all the things that make there job better. Work = Play

Goran web design August 23, 2008 at 4:06 am

Not too sure what happened to my post.

As I was saying, people are the success of any company, and google has understood this and ensured that its staff dont come to work and rather go to the google plex and play. As when we play we do it with our heart, we do things better when we want to do it.

Suz August 25, 2008 at 8:18 am

Silicon Valley-
I agree with you, working from home and for one’s self rocks. Working for Google is the only desk job that I can imagine leaving it for. *Grin*

fathersez August 27, 2008 at 6:54 am

Golden handcuffs maybe another way to look at these.

Still the founders sound like guys who sincerely want to give the best to their employees. They know that the employees are who (would / did?)make them great.

Not sure if and when once the so called professional managers take over, the name Google will have the same shine.

Austin Real Estate Broker August 27, 2008 at 9:55 am

I worked for a company here in Austin that provided all the perks like Google. In reality it’s kind of all a scam. If you look at it from a company perspective, how much additional work can you get from an employee if you take away the drive to lunch or time to run errands? How about if you provide dinner so they almost never HAVE to leave the building? It’s likely much cheaper to pay for a $20 dinner and get three extra hours of work from a $200/hour employee.
I won’t lie. It was fun and convenient at times, but at other times I felt like my whole life revolved around the company and work. So no more of that for me, but for the young folks itching to be techies as part of who they are it’s wonderful. For those of us who seek more balance, it may be better to just go to work 9-5 with the occasional OT.

Joe

Danielle August 27, 2008 at 5:26 pm

This was interesting. I’ve heard how “fantastic” it is to work for Google but never realized what sort of benefits the employees received. Thanks

JEM September 9, 2008 at 10:11 am

I am at work a ton anyway and I am salaried so personally this sound like heaven!

Kurt September 9, 2008 at 11:40 am

Is this an article from 2004? Goog started cutting back on these perks two years ago.

Silicon Valley Blogger September 9, 2008 at 12:08 pm

@Kurt,

Thanks for the input! I’d love to hear what the latest is with Google. My sister-in-law is about to get a job there and is just wrapping up her final interview with the department she is joining. It would be interesting to hear what’s up with them these days.

Whether or not this is but a nostalgic walk down Google’s memory lane, it’s still nice to know how great the benefits can potentially be in a successful company. I was fortunate enough to receive great benefits from past high-flying companies in the Valley in the past, and I find it interesting to be able to compare how it is then and now.

Writer's Coin September 9, 2008 at 5:51 pm

I love the referral bonus, it just speaks volume about a company and its belief in its employees.

Until Debt Do Us Part September 11, 2008 at 9:26 am

Where do I sign up? No seriously!

I hear and understand people’s reservations about spending a lot of time at work but I would much rather spend my time working in a nice environment than an unpleasant one.

Savings Toolbox September 16, 2008 at 4:57 am

Shame more companies can’t follow that lead – and make work life at least liveable (as some certainly do not).

I had a friend who worked for an attorney for 6 years on a big case. All the office girls worked their butts off, working o/t, traveling. They did a great job because they had fun working together. The bosses took them out to casinos and dinners and each received a bonus or 2 during their hard working months.

Then the case went to court – they won…soon people were being laid off. Insurance was changed and there was no more overtime. All the “new money” (like $167M) went into building a new office.

Hopefully, even if the bloom was take on the rose, Google’s peeps are smart enough to stay on the cutting edge and will continue to offer unheard of perks to benefit their company as well as show other companies that a couple of freebies doesn’t mean the end of the world.

Shahrokh October 19, 2008 at 2:10 am

congratulation to google manager smart brain….they are so intelligent….

Alex November 20, 2008 at 4:13 am

Sounds like the US congress, I wonder if Google is managed just as good?

Glad I shorted Google at $700.

ML November 10, 2009 at 11:51 am

I wonder if all of these perks are still available at Google considering the current economic conditions. Wish all businesses could take Google’s lead and provide more to their employees, but it’s pretty unrealistic now to expect perks like these. And that is too bad.

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