July 11, 2013
Independent Research Assignment 2: Rewards Systems
How rare is it for someone to actually LOVE going to work? We expect our company will reward us richly for all hard work we put in. Rewards systems can vary from company to company. Some use exquisite salary and benefits packages. Others will emphasize the value of intrinsic rewards (rewards that give people fulfillment material objects like money never would). Depending on our rewards, we will either remain loyal to our employers, or look for a new one. As Stephen Robbins and Timothy Judge state in Organizational Behavior, “pay is not a primary factor driving job satisfaction” but “it does motivate people, and companies often underestimate its importance in keeping top talent” (Robbins and Judge, 2013, p.252). Some companies have figured out how to make their employees happy with pay. One-hundred companies make the annual “100 best companies to work for” list, published every January by Fortune Magazine. One such company—in fact, the number one company on this list, in 2013, and the one that appeals to me and my computer science background the most— is Google. A breakdown of their rewards setup and how it relates to what experts say about successfully using rewards in job motivation follows.
The reputation Google has for employee popularity is well-known in the Silicon Valley area and other places. According to Fortune magazine, some of the luxurious amenities employees of Mountain View, California-based Google—worth $37,905,000,000 in 2011, who secured the top spot in 2013 for a fourth consecutive year—enjoy are:
*The “100,000 hours of subsidized massages it doled out in 2012”
*“Three wellness centers”
*A “seven-acre sports complex, which includes a roller hockey rink; courts for basketball, bocce, and shuffle ball; and horseshoe pits” (CNN/Money, 2013).
Google’s corporate motto, which is instantly recognizable the world over, is “don’t be evil,” and while the company is steeped in much public controversy over privacy and free speech, employees know that Google keeps this in mind with regard to their employees. A typically Google employee will enjoy perks ranging from “"nap pods" for a quick break during the day to allowing engineers to spend 20 percent of their work time on side projects that may spark new ideas” (Qtd. by S. Malone, Reuters, 2008); additionally, employees eat 2 free meals a day, at about $30/day per person for each of Google’s 9,600 employees (as of 2008), which amounted to annual expenses of nearly $73 million (Qtd. by V. Sridharan, Business Insider, 2008); most prominently, Google leads the tech industry in salary, as the mid-career median salary at Google in 2011 was $141,000 (Qtd. by G. Lubin, Business Insider, 2011). Fortune’s list factors all industries, not just the tech industry. So it is safe to say that even non-tech companies could learn a thing or two from Google about keeping employees happy and retaining their talents and services for their respective companies.
Employee retention depends upon satisfying both high-level and low-level needs of the workers. As Richard Daft notes in The Leadership Experience, Frederick Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory gauges job satisfaction based on two levels: “hygiene factors,” which correspond to things like “working conditions, pay and security, company policies, supervisors, and interpersonal relationships,” and “motivators,” that consider “achievement, recognition, responsibility, work itself, and personal growth” (Daft, 2008, p. 231). As we can see here, Google employees have various needs met by their employer: They are paid the highest salary in the industry [hygiene factors], their physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs are cared for [hygiene factors], and they are