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Washington Voices

Will work for food, special toilet

Sat., June 22, 2013, midnight

I’ve got to hand it to the tech savvy generation – they have cut an enviable workplace cloth.

From the generation who one-upped the work world with casual Fridays and power suits and believed we were the cutting edge rule busters and game changers, we’ve now been trumped by those of the Google realm who took our one-upness and ran with it to infinity and beyond.

From onsite doctors and free medical care for employees and their families, to three organic meals a day (no charge), child care, hair cuts, Japanese Toto Toilets with devices that wash and dry one’s nether regions, these Googlers have not only conquered the hum-drum known as work but get paid a handsome wage to boot.

I know this is difficult for many to fathom – all these perks, a fantastic salary … has the Age of Aquarius given way to the Age of Entitlement? Some may think so. But Google says no – their inventive work environment has proven just the opposite. Their employees are self-starters who imagine, produce and succeed. In fact, stocks for these perk-saturated companies continue to climb and outperform other companies. The reason behind this phenomenon is simple; employers are willing to rattle stuffy work cages to inspire their employees so they’ll love what they do.

Google, and software giant SAS, believe their employees matter. These employers want their people energized, imaginative, contented and free from worry; in short, to enjoy work and use their creative talents that become bogged down in the everyday chores of bills, kids, health care and food. And if it takes company fitness centers, paid education and degree programs, child care, pet sitting, laundry services and free legal advice, then so be it.

Laszio Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google, was quoted as saying, “The important thing to note is that you don’t need a lot of money to do what Google has done. If you give people freedom, they will amaze you.”

Freedom. Now there’s an innovative concept.

Other companies on the abundant perks list include Genentech, Inc. that provides child and doggie day care plus six-week paid sabbaticals among other perks. Netflix, who state they hire adults and should be treated as such, have no set vacation days. S.C. Johnson combines such perks as an on-site concierge service that mails letters, sends flowers, and changes oil in your car with benefit packages extending into retirement.

And here I thought employer paid medical/dental benefits and three weeks vacation were cream of the work crop perks.

Back when we conquered the work place, a job and paycheck were essential goals. But today’s employees want more. According to a Sept. 19, 2011, CNN article, “How employee freedom delivers better business” employees want, “Trust in leadership and each other, pride in their work, enjoyment of the people they work with, and fairness and transparency; all things that companies like Google and SAS seem to do well. The key to making this approach successful, they say, is a sincere focus on employee well being.”

Employee well being. Another innovative concept.

Granted, we’ve come a long way from the sweat shops of yesteryear where 20 hour work days and meager pay were the norm but now that my working career is coming to an end, I have to admire these companies and their zeal to topple the stodgy work world along with their unique concept of employer/employee relationships. I can’t help but think that this type of work environment would’ve set my imagination soaring, allowing me to step outside the box and perhaps find that nirvana of wildest dreams … but, I’ll never know.

Like I said, I have to hand it to the tech savvy generation – they’re achieving something I could only dream about.

Voices correspondent Sandra Babcock can be reached by email at Previous columns are available at columnists/.

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