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Australians and their Kiwi cousins across the ditch are just mad about Google. So mad about the big G that for a second year running they have resoundingly nominated the search engine monolith as their employer of choice, with the desire to work for themselves also high up on their list of dream jobs.


Just over 7,000 Aussies and New Zealanders surveyed by Insync and RedBalloon 2011in their Dream Employers Survey, were clear - Google is their employer of choice, closely followed by the Virgin Group, Qantas and Apple, all of which featured in the top five last year.

However, for many of those surveyed, they still dream of working for themselves, but there is just one snag - of those already self-employed, less than half are actually satisfied. And, it seems there is a softer side to our job seekers, with the survey revealing that more Australians and New Zealanders are increasingly attracted to careers that provide the opportunity to do something that matters and adds real value to their lives. Hence, the appearance of the police force and defence on the top 20 for the first time.

Insync Surveys CEO, James Garriock says Google clearly maintained its position as the employer of choice for the second year running, and the 'desire for people to work for themselves is as strong as ever, with self-employment ranked second, moving up from third place last year.'

Meanwhile, Google head of people operations, Joe Krayer said the key to the company's success is to not look at programs in isolation, '[but] use a multi-faceted approach to motivate and provide a culture that recognises employees.'

'The foundation is our very competitive compensation package consisting of base pay, equity and bonuses', which isn't surprising given the company rolled out a global 10 per cent pay rise in 2010 to all employees.'

But according to Krayer, all Google's compensation programs are closely tied to performance and 'designed to reward employees for building innovative solutions for users and business partners.'

'We have in place robust reward and recognition programs, [where we] reward employees via excellent benefits and unique perks, such as massages, sleep pods and fun off-site events. Googlers often tell us their biggest reward is our unique culture and the ability to work with amazing co-workers on products with a global impact.'

According to the survey, the top three drivers that make a dream employer in 2011 are:

'¢    Pay, benefits and conditions (38 per cent) - up 11 percentage points from sixth position in 2010

'¢    Work-life balance (37 per cent) - up nine percentage points from third position in 2010

'¢    Culture (36 per cent) - down three percentage points from second position in 2010

Garriock says this is a notable shift from last year when the top motivation was brand or company reputation, dropping from 41 per cent in 2010 to 27 per cent this year.

According to economist Saul Eslake from the Grattan Institute, this shift away from brand reputation in favour of companies that can offer financial security speaks volumes about the state of the economy.

'It's true that people are becoming more anxious about their finances in the face of rising costs of living, increased taxes, fears of higher interest rates, declines in personal wealth through superannuation fund  losses and decreased house prices.

'Wages have been pretty static since before the onset of the GFC, so in the face of all these developments it's perhaps not surprising that employees are attaching greater weight to pay than they were last year,' Eslake said.

But according to RedBalloon founding director, Naomi Simson, companies may be left wanting if they put all their emphasis on the size of pay packets.

Simson says reward and recognition programs are 'vital in attracting, developing and retaining key talent.'

"Paying people fairly is an absolute must, but cash rewards don't inspire employee loyalty, with studies showing that non-monetary incentives have a higher perceived value, being 24 per cent more powerful at boosting performance than cash incentives.'

And, Simson says the survey results support 'what we have known for a long time - the feel-good generated by a pay rise only lasts as long as it takes for the extra cash to be swallowed by the mortgage or credit card payment.

'Offering flexibility, building high levels of employee engagement and giving employees the opportunity to learn and develop with a sense of purpose will be crucial once the thrill of a fatter pay cheque has worn off.'

Simson also warns that companies who ignore the benefits of having reward and recognition programs in place will 'pay the price with higher staff turnover and reduced productivity from disengaged employees, ' and worse still, 'they could become damaging brand 'badvocates'.'

And, according to Garriock, employees should be the biggest advocates for an organisation, helping win new customers and attract new talent, but he is critical, saying that 'most employers waste this opportunity.'

'If organisations could harness the word-of-mouth power of passionately engaged employees, the bottom line impact would be potent.'

And, in line with the increasing attraction to careers that provide the opportunity to do something that matters and adds real value to our lives, the police force and defence appear on the top 20 of dream employers for the first time.

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Peter Dinham

 

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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