Monday, May 11, 2015

Be Frugal and Generous

There are a few people who I love reading everything they write and every interview they give. One of those people is Google's head of HR (officially, "head of people operations"), Laszlo Bock. That definitely rang true as he gave a recent interview to The Guardian with ten tips to get ahead at work. There are a ton of great parts in there (pay unfairly, spoil your best workers, choose a job that makes you happier, etc) but my favorite one was this: Be Frugal and Generous.
Most things Google does for its people costs nothing. Have vendors bring services in-house or negotiate lunch delivery. Guest speakers require only a room and a microphone. Save your big cheques for the times when your people are most in need. Your generosity will have the most impact when someone needs emergency medical attention or when families are welcoming new members. 
This is true even for the smallest company. My father founded an engineering firm that he led for over three decades. He cared deeply for each of his people. When any of his team reached five years in tenure, he took them aside and told them that the company had a pension plan, and at five years they were fully vested in it. 
In addition to whatever they’d been saving, he had also been putting money aside for each of them. Some cheered, some cried, some simply thanked him. He didn’t tell people earlier than that because he didn’t want them to stay for the money. He wanted them to stay because they loved building things and loved the team.
I've been at companies that spent wildly on their employees...and then had to cut them later to save money. I've been at companies that held tight to every dollar...and then had employees leave because they were way too frugal. This seems like great advice on how to fit in between.

You don't have to give everyone a pension plan that you personally pay into or bring in lunch every day--sometimes, you just need to find a way to show you care and do the things for your employees that show you appreciate they stuck around. Bock has some great ways to do that in this piece.

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