How Google Is Trying To Stop Its Brain Drain

Google massage

Photo: Luc Van Braekel via Flickr

Google is taking some new steps to prevent its brain drain to newer companies like Facebook and Twitter.On today’s earnings call, Google confirmed that it had given all employees a 10% raise effective January 1, 2011.

(The accompanying $1,000 holiday cash bonus was not mentioned, but the total amount is not that large — $23 million, more or less — and Google has given out bonuses in past years, so this wasn’t really material on an earnings call.)

Google also explained exactly how and why it’s moving a portion of employee bonuses into base salaries.

Before, every employee’s bonus was calculated by two multipliers, one which reflected the overall results of the company, and one which reflected individual performance. But apart from execs, most employees don’t have a lot of influence on the company’s overall results. So to be fair, Google moved that portion of their bonuses into base paychecks. The individual multiplier is still in force, so great performers will still get bigger bonuses than their relatively underperforming peers.

Finally, Google said it is giving product managers and engineers more autonomy. This seems to confirm earlier rumours that some groups within Google are now operating more like independent startups. It could also help Google counter the incredible freedom that Facebook engineers enjoy.

At the same time, it sounds like Google is going to drive its people harder: the company said it would push engineers and product managers “to do more, faster.” Sounds like those 10 to 3 days are over — if they were ever true to begin with.

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