April 1, 2013

Tech firms bumping up perks to recruit, retain

Martha Mendoza / The Associated Press

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Google employees shoot pool at in a break room at the Google campus in Mountain View, Calif., recently. Companies say extraordinary campuses are a necessity, to recruit and retain top talent, and to spark innovation and creativity in the workplace.

AP

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Facebook employee Noah Singer gets his hair cut by Charlotte Schaetzle at Johnny D's Barber Shop on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, Calif.

AP

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Facebook staffers are welcome to stop by and play in Ben Barry's Analog Research Laboratory, a large, sunlit studio with laser cutters, woodworking tools, a letter press machine and silk screening supplies.

"I believe if people feel they can control their environment, that leads to a greater sense of ownership over the product," says Barry, who makes posters for the campus walls with mantras like "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" and "Move fast and break things."

About six miles north at Google's headquarters, workers on one of more than 1,000 Google-designed bikes rolled from one building to another. Others stepped into electric cars, available for free check outs if someone has an errand. In one office, two young engineers enjoyed a beer and shot pool.

Google doesn't want its Googlers to have to worry about distractions in their life.

Concerned about the kids? Childcare is on campus. Need to shop and cook? Have the family dine at Google. Dirty laundry piling up? Bring it in to the office. Bring Fido too, so he doesn't get lonely. There's a climbing wall, nap pods (lay down in the capsule, set the alarm, zzzzz), a bowling alley, multiple gyms, a variety of healthy cafes, mini kitchens, and classes on anything from American Sign Language to Public Speaking. In a shared, community garden, Googlers plant seeds, knowing that if they get too busy, a landscaper will pull their weeds.

The company has no policy requiring people to be at work. But officials say Googlers want to come in.

"We work hard to create the healthiest, happiest and most productive work environments possible that inspire collaboration and innovation," said spokeswoman Katelin Todhunter-Gerberg.

Wheeler says the mega-complexes being built today will be hard to staff 10 years from now, and that the next era will see smaller workplaces where employees are responsible for meeting achievements and objectives, and have flexibility about when they come in to their office.

"When you look at how some of these companies operate, they're in effect, sweat shops. ... They want 80, 90, 100 hours of work. In order to even make that tolerable, of course you have to offer haircuts and food and places to sleep or else people would have to go home," he said.

 

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The Hub bicycle shop and transportation center on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, Calif.

AP

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Two of the more than 1,000 bicycles Google provides employees on its Mountain View, Calif., campus.

AP

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Google software engineer Jiang Chen sits in a massage chair at a Google campus building in Mountain View, Calif.

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The Facebook campus in Menlo Park, Calif.: "People do work really, really hard here," says a Facebook spokesman. "They have to be passionate about what they do."

AP

  


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