Yvonne Humphries: How Google’s perks alleviate stress and boost employees' morale

It is no secret that working for Google has it’s benefits. Google has ranked highly on Forbes’ top ten places to work since the awards inception in 2009. By providing a range of perks, including free meals, snacks and gym facilities, Google consistently keeps it’s employees happy. Bored during the lunch break? Video games, table football and billiards are provided for the staff’s entertainment. Hair getting in the way at work? Free haircuts are available on site. Employees are even allowed to spend up to 20% of their time at work on personal projects, which Google claims are often the source of the company’s most innovative new products.

What’s in it for Google?

Google aren’t doing all this out of the kindness of their hearts – there is hard evidence to suggest that a happy workforce is a creative and productive workforce. Research has shown that work related stress is the second most common health problem in Europe’s workplaces – after musculoskeletal disorders. In the UK, stress, depression, and anxiety accounted for more than 15 million sick days last year, the highest in five years. 50–60% of all lost working days can be attributed to work-related stress, which averages to 27 days off work for every employee suffering from stress. The BBC reports that sick leave is costing the UK economy an annual total of £14 billion.

Many of Google’s perks, from their subsidized massage program to their bring-your-pet-to-work scheme, are designed to target stress and boost employee morale. Around 50% of workers in large companies (250+ employees) consider stress to be a common problem in their workplace, but a few outliers, such as Google, are doing their best to keep that number down and to keep productivity high.

Longer office hours

Other perks, such as the laundry and dry cleaning facilities, come with the additional welcome consequence of keeping employees in the office for longer. It’s not uncommon for Google employees bring their laundry into work and then clock a couple of hours at the office whilst the washing gets done. Google’s medical program, including on-site doctor’s appointments, ensures a healthy work force, which brings absenteeism down.

 Improved staff retention

Google have these perks not only to get the best from their employees, but also to attract the best employees and crucially keep them working at Google. Improving staff retention is an excellent reason to offer benefits, especially when you consider that over half of Britain’s employees are unhappy at work, with over a third of them seriously considering leaving their jobs. The research shows that age and position are both a factor, as 40% of those in the age group 25 – 34 and 36% of those aged 35 – 45 are thinking about quitting. Additionally, 41% of managers are seriously considering a move, including 53% of senior managers, compared to 33% of non-managers.

Yvonne Humphries is Operations Director at Onsite Plus