By now, you're probably aware of Google’s company perks--the free haircuts, on-site doctors, shuttle buses, etc. But apparently, these perks aren't lavish wastes of money. They are calculated processes that not only make employees happy, but also benefit the company as a whole.
Slate.com recently took an in-depth look at the company's meticulous and scientific approach to creating and maintaining these happy employees. While your company may lack Google’s bountiful resources (few companies, after all, can offer Google’s death benefits), key company practices can still be applied to your business.
Act like a scientist. Google has reportedly hired social scientists to run a bevy of tests on employees. A free way to do this yourself? Collect data on employees by having them fill out surveys. This is the first step to developing a better culture.
Give smart perks. For every perk, there should be a reason. A few years ago, Google changed its maternity leave plan from the standard 12 weeks to five months. This wasn’t a random burst of generosity, according to Slate. New mothers were reportedly leaving the company at twice the average departure rate and Laszio Bock, head of Google’s HR department, wanted this number to go down. The added maternity benefits worked; Bock told Slate that if you factor in recruitment costs, the new maternity policy doesn’t cost the company anything.
Don't neglect the little things that can have big impact. Researchers hired by Google found that the ideal lunch line wait in the cafeteria should be around three or four minutes (long enough that people can chat and make new connections, short enough to minimize wasted time). They also found that stocking the cafeteria with smaller plates (8-inch instead of 12-inch) encouraged workers to eat smaller, healthier portions. Small, inexpensive changes can have a big effect on employee satisfaction.
Model your human resources department on a science lab. Whenever possible, Google tries to answer HR questions scientifically. “What we try to do is bring the same level of rigor to people decisions that we do to engineering decisions,” Prasad Setty, who heads Google’s “people’s analytics” group, told Slate Magazine.
Use data to understand what your employees really think. Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google with the idealistic belief that bosses were unnecessary. Feedback from company surveys indicated the opposite, and now Google understands the value of middle managers. Use the data you collect; if it challenges current company policy, by all means, investigate and find a better solution.