An Inside Look at Google's Best Employee Perks

Current and former employees sound off on the most attractive benefits the tech giant has to offer.
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A lot has changed at Google recently. Larry Page announced in August that the tech giant was splitting itself up and creating a new holding company, Alphabet, to contain all the pieces.

That separated newer Google's other businesses — Calico, Nest, and Fiber, the investing arms Google Ventures and Google Capital, and incubator projects such as Google X — from core businesses like search and Android.

But after a brief moment of excitement as news of the shake-up broke, Google employees simply got back to work, seeming pleased with the direction their company was heading.

And there's a good reason for that. Google has always looked after its staff, providing workers with a lot of perks to make it worth their while to stay with the company. Some former Googlers, and a few who are still with the company, have listed their favourite benefits on Quora, and others have submitted them to Glassdoor. 

The free gourmet food and snacks are never-ending.

Googlers employees are extremely well fed, getting healthy and varied breakfast, lunch, and even dinner if they stay late — for free. There are also coffee and juice bars scattered throughout the campuses.

The consensus is that the convenience of having food provided cannot be overstated.

One Googler commented that they loved the food perk because, "it saves me time and money, and helps me build relationships with my colleagues."

Working at Google, you're exposed to amazing people and great thinkers.

One Googler said that the company is a great place to see, listen to, and meet with people who he grew up reading about ("Never in my life have I met so many people with a Wikipedia page than in the last year!" he writes).

Another Googler also had only great things to say about his coworkers:

We are surrounded by smart, driven people who provide the best environment for learning I've ever experienced. I don't mean through tech talks and formal training programs, I mean through working with awesome colleagues -- even the non-famous ones.

I've worked at several other .coms and have never been more challenged and energized professionally from my colleagues than at Google. People are generally happy to work there, they come from diverse backgrounds, and almost always have an interesting story to share.

Besides being exposed to tech leaders, there are often talks with celebrities and other thought leaders.

Googlers feel like they are really living in the future.

Because Google is one of the top technology companies in the world, it's no surprise that employees are at the forefront of technology.

Googlers get to use the company's products to get work done and beta-test products that haven't been released to the public yet. 

"Chrome was my primary browser before it was announced. I've used phones, tablets, and Chromebooks before they went on sale. It's fun. I get a sneak peek at the future, and if I give good feedback or get even more involved, I can shape it as well," one employee shares.

Dogs are welcome!

Googlers are free to bring their pets to work.

A former Googler describes why bringing his dog to work is so great. He says that it not only helped keep his energy up, but brought spontaneous joy to his coworkers and helped him meet people he probably would not have otherwise. 

Here's his whole answer:

Though managing a dog between meetings can sometimes be challenging, having her with me meant that every few hours I needed to get outside and take a break which helped me manage my energy. In addition my dog brought a lot of spontaneous joy to my colleagues who sometimes sought her out when needing a break from an arduous task. For everyone looking out your work window to see dogs chasing each other or running after tennis balls really warms the spirit. Eventually my dog became far better known than I was and she oddly enough ended up introducing me to a lot of people I wouldn't otherwise have met. The benefits of allowing dogs in the office far outweigh the costs, and the increase in job satisfaction for those with dogs or who like dogs far outweighs the mild annoyance of those miserable individuals who somehow make it through life unaffected by wagging tails and contagious enthusiasm. If there is an easy Google benefit almost anyone can replicate, bringing dogs into the workplace is it.

Googlers at the Mountain View campus get a free ride to and from work.

Even though Google's buses have becomecontroversial with San Francisco residents as of late, they're still an amazing resource for its employees. 

All the buses are equipped with Wi-Fi, so not only can employees live anywhere in San Francisco without needing a car to get to work, but they can relax, have fun, or get work done on the way there. 

The TechStop helps Googlers stay plugged in with 24-7 tech support.

Google has some of the best and brightest IT specialists available to help other employees get their jobs done.

The TechStop is Google in-house tech support shop, it provides Google employees guidance with all hardware and software needs and problems 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

One employee likes The TechStop so much "because it's just such a practical approach to solving the simple problems that get in the way. For example if you forgot your laptop power supply, go get another."

Free "massage credits."

Employees can give each other "massage credits" for a job well done on projects. The massage credits can be redeemed for a free one-hour massage on campus.

Besides massages, one engineer describes what it was like when he got an injury while working at Google:

I got an injury while I was in the U.S. and needed to have three surgeries and follow-ups that in total made me not being able to work for five months. Starting with my manager and colleague, the entire company was really sympathetic with what happened to me and encouraged me to concentrate on getting healthier. When I came back an extended time I was definitely feeling stressed, but my manager set her expectations fairly, which enabled me to ramp up very quickly and continue where I left off.

And the development of your career.

An anonymous employee wrote: 

"I am really impressed with how invested Google is in your well-being and career growth. I've never had a conversation with my past managers about career trajectory as much as I've had at Google. As someone who is quite shy, it is hard for me to bring up promotions and career track with my manager. But Google really trained the manager to be proactive about their employees' growth. I enjoy that the most.

(The matching 401K isn't a bad perk either.)"

New parents get the break they deserve.

It's typical for mothers to get time off from work for up to six weeks after having a child in the US, but at Google it's another story.

New dads receive six weeks of paid leave, and moms can take 18 weeks, and employees' stock continues to vest (and they continue to receive bonuses) while they are on leave.  

"The Goog even gives us a bonus, called 'baby bonding bucks' shortly after our baby is born to help with expenses like diapers, takeout, and formula during our leave," one employee writes

When parents return to work, there are free on-site daycares for children.

One man's wife actually cried when she heard how good Google's death benefits were.

Google certainly inspires a lot of loyalty with Googlers' spouses. If a Googler passes away while working there, all their stock vests immediately, and, on top of the life insurance payout, their surviving spouse continues to get half of the Googler's salary for the next 10 years. There's also an additional $1,000/month benefit for any of the Googler's children.

"When I mentioned this benefit to my wife, she cried," one Googler writes. "She actually cried that the company would do that for her if something happened to me."

Employees get free fitness classes and gyms, and are encouraged to participate in organized intramural sports.

A former engineer really liked having showers on campus:

I love to think in the shower and frequently worked out ideas in there. The opportunity to get outside and run around if you had some energy to work off, knowing you could just shower and switch into some other clothes helped alleviate a lot of the fidgety energy I felt being pent up in a cubicle. It let me focus on work. I also felt comfortable pushing myself harder on my morning bike ride in, knowing I could shower and change when I got there. 

Plus, many offices offer scooters for employees to zoom around the office on.  

The 80/20 rule gives Googlers plenty of opportunity for creativity.

The 80/20 rule allows Googlers to dedicate 80% of time to their primary job and 20% working on passion projects that they believe will help the company.

Googlers are encourage to read.

Zurich-based Googlersays that when he joined the company in 2006, every "Noogler" was allowed to pick out three out of a selection of books as a gift. Apparently the company has a lot of libraries too, with books about technologies, machine learning and statistics, product management, engineering and maths to name a few, that Googlers can take away and read.

And keep on learning.

Google is known for its tech talks — presentations and lectures on various topics that are open to employees to either attend or watch remotely.

"The culture at Google is incredibly open to sharing of knowledge and ideas, so if you spend your time constructively while you are there, you can really learn a lot," one Googler says. "There were things that I never even knew were possible that I heard for the first time through tech talks or watching archived presentations. You have some of the leading experts in their fields who are either your co-workers and happy to talk to you or outside researchers/political top-brass/celebrities/etc. invited to give talks at Google."

"One of my favorite things in college was sitting in on lectures for classes that I didn't really need but I was interested in the topic. It was like unofficial auditing and I found it to be a nice, stress-free way to learn new things for free — although technically you weren't supposed to do this. It was kind of amazing to me that I could continue to do that while working in an industry setting. I think Google is one of few industry workplaces in the world that do a very good job of supporting something like this and I find it to be a great less-mentioned perk."

There's a good risk-reward ratio.

Google employees with the Android Gingerbread

The general consensus is it's the people, the business, and the technology that Google employees work with that make it worth being there.

A current employee wrote that the risk-reward ratio at Google was a great factor:

We have an amazing business that keeps growing, that customers and users love, and that provides us with more job stability than almost any other company. It's not going to make any one of us rich, but the risk-reward ratio is pretty good, and sustainable.

Google employees can get extended time off to follow their passions.

In addition to vacations, Google's leave policies give workers more opportunities to explore life outside of the workplace.

Googlers can take a three-month leave of unpaid time off, under specific circumstances. Healthcare benefits continue for unpaid leaves of up to three months. Googlers can use their time off to work with nonprofit organizations, political campaigns, and other community-oriented projects they're interested in.

Once you're a part of the Google network, you'll be part of it forever.

Once a Googler, always a Googler. One ex-employee (read: Xoogler) says that the alumni support is one of the best perks of the job. "Xoogler groups are some of the largest support portals in the world. If you're aXoogler, you'll know someone in any country you visit."

This story first appeared on Business Insider

Published on: Sep 21, 2015
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