Google named Australia’s top place to work – but do perks really pay?

Internet giant Google, famous for offering staff perks including bean bags, ping-pong tables and a free cafeteria, has been named Australia’s best place to work in a survey of over 15,000 people.


The survey of 220 companies and 15,064 workers, conducted by the Great Place to Work Institute, also names Coca-Cola, Yahoo!7 , Russell Investments, IT analysis firm Gartner and online retailer RedBalloon as top employers.


The information technology industry has claimed 12 of the top 50 employers, with marketing firms claiming seven spots.


Several of the top 50 provide free perks such as the ability to wear casual clothes to work everyday, work from home, and perks such as bean bag seating and free iPods.


But Chris Taylor, co-chief executive of the institute, says perks only go so far, and good employers must ensure high levels of staff morale.  


“I think perks make the workplace fun and create a high level of energy, but it’s a very short term fix. It’s like having a Mars Bar – you feel really good for five minutes but then come down hard.


“The reality is that for many people work is an extension of who they are – they want to feel important. They want to feel like what they’re doing makes a difference. It’s a much bigger characteristic that these organisations can deliver.”


Taylor says bosses must maintain high levels of transparency to build a “credible leadership brand”.


“It comes down to the fact that leadership practices need to be viewed as highly credible. A lot of people think the Googles of this world who have millions of dollars to throw in perks can’t be competed with, but look at RedBalloon – they can organise people around a common vision and build a degree of intimacy.


“One RedBalloon employee moved 15,000kms to take on the job. Powerful statements like that start to resonate around the strength of the brand. A good workplace means you can put a business on your resume and instantly have credibility.”


Naomi Simson, chief of online retailer RedBalloon, says putting the effort into creating a positive work environment will not only ensure high staff morale, but will help your company’s cashflow.


“Organisations which have a highly engaged workforce also have high customer loyalty. Gallup had a survey that showed businesses which have engaged employees have higher sales, profits and customer loyalty.”


Simson also says that being recognised as a leading employer helps add value to the brand, and says the company receives hundreds of job applicants for a single role.


“You just have to be transparent about the company and what happens there, and we put photos and detailed descriptions about that on our site. That will add value, and you also have to carefully choose your employees. Perks are nice, but more importantly is creating a positive atmosphere…and that comes with employees who have the right attitude.”






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