I had heard stories about free lunches and onsite massage centers for Googlers, but I didn't find those stories appealing. A friend of mine had invited me to visit her at Google, so after finishing up my recruiting duties at the Stanford Computer Forum, I drove down to Mountain View to Google's headquarters (Googleplex).
I was surprised by the gamut of minor perks that Googlers enjoy. Free valet parking, car wash and car detailing services made the first impression. I literally hate it when I have to keep driving from one floor of the parking garage to another, just because some people prefer to sleep early and wake up early to get to work early. A valet service would certainly help. The on-site massage center and a hair salon can certainly save time. But I found the concierge service to be the coolest. Googlers can have the concierge "take their dog for a walk", or "buy their spouse flowers", while they are busy making search better (or playing pool!) Another cool perk are the mini-scooters and segways, that Googlers can use to commute from one office to another down the hall. I don't mind walking/running down the hall, but won't it be cool to ride around on a Segway!!
Romans ruled on one principle: "Feed and entertain and you'll conquer." Google gets this one right. Google makes sure that the Googlers are well fed. The cafeteria offers a wide variety of delicacies to Googlers and their guests, throughout the day and into the evenings. The kitchen area offers a variety of hip beverages, including Naked juices, Vitamin water, Tejava, etc. Googlers also enjoy free access to a variety of organic chips, snacks and chocolates to ensure that they are high on sugar all the time (so much for making search better!!)
Although Microsoft offers paid dining services from Eurest and first come first serve - parking amenities, I believe firmly that Microsoft offers employees with an environment to fully unleash their potential. When we compare Microsoft's almost 60,000 employees to Google's mere 5,000 + employees, Microsoft offers terrific perks at that scale. But can Google still afford to continue providing these perks as it grows? Every year, Microsoft hires more people than Google's total population and still manages to offer some of the best perks. Just for a thought, can Microsoft afford to offer Google-like amenities to all its 60,000 employees? Would Google be able to continue providing these perks, as it grows (if it grows to be that large!!) Should it? Are these frivolous expenses justified for a public company?
Considering the competition in attracting the best talent, can a typical startup afford to provide such perks to its employees?