Lessons from Google: Eight ways to appreciate the BBBEE superheroes in your company

“Learn to appreciate what you have, before time makes you appreciate what you had.”  

If that sounds a little melodramatic, try this: it’s a lot cheaper to keep employees than replace them. Experts say it costs between 16% and 25% of an employee’s annual compensation to replace someone who leaves.

“And that doesn’t include the indirect costs of lost productivity while you look for a replacement, lower-quality work by the newcomer as he or she ramps up, lost client relationships, lost revenues, deterioration of em­­ployee morale and even increases in on-the-job injuries,” writes David Peasall for

A study conducted by the Center for American Progress says that jobs that are very complex and require specialised training cost even more to replace – sometimes as high as 213% of their annual salary.   

The transformation managers and B-BBEE champions in our businesses have a rare combination of people skills and technical know-how. Chances are they’ve spent years gearing up their skillset in this very specialised area of training. Because you can’t get a degree in B-BBEE, there’s no specific go-to place (or route) to basic training.

It’s a highly localised, ever-evolving industry, so someone highly skilled in B-BBEE is someone you want to hold on to. Furthermore, your B-BBEE managers are trying to hold on to the rest of your staff. So how do you keep all of your B-BBEE superheroes – from your B-BBEE managers right through to your interns -- coming back to work with a smile?   

Research shows that employees who are given the space to be creative in their work are happier and more fulfilled. Some of this stems from the corporate culture you nurture at top management level, which takes planning and strategy. However, there are a few simple ways to inject ‘happiness’ and creativity into your workplace.   

Let’s take a look at poster-boy Google.

PayScale reports that 86% of Google employees are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their jobs. And who wouldn’t be, when your workplace resembles a large holiday resort? Here’s a list of the things the company offers its employees. Alongside each one, we’ve offered small ways that you could consider adopting for your own workplace.   

1. The company offers free breakfast, lunch and dinner (to those who are working late).

Employees choose from a range of healthy gourmet meals, and there are coffee and juice bars scattered throughout Googleplex. So, you might not be able to buy free meals for everyone every day, but what about one free drink a day, or “Smoothie Fridays”?

2. Google employees are welcome to bring their dogs to work.

If your company is based in a space that allows for this – such as a house that’s been converted into offices – why don’t you try giving this a go? Listen to all your employees brag to their friends about this cool perk that will cost the company very little.

3. A free ride to and from work.

Consider setting up an uber account for interns or younger employees who don’t have their own transport. The result will be happier staff who arrive more timeously and better-rested.

4. 24/7 tech support.

So there’s little chance that you can provide around-the-clock IT help, but making sure that your employees get adequate, prompt technical assistance when they need it is crucial. When you’re tempted to skimp in this area, remember that your employees are losing productivity when their tools aren’t working.

5. Googlers get free massages.

(They can also give a colleague or team member a “massage credit” for doing a good job). Every three months, bring a masseuse into the office for an afternoon. Or, hand out spa vouchers to those who go the extra mile.

6. Six weeks paid paternity leave and 18 months paid maternity leave, including bonuses.

Maternity benefits can be deal-clinchers for young female jobseekers. Since there are more female graduates than males nowadays, this is an important factor. Try to differentiate your company by offering just a little more than your competitors. Three months maternity leave at full pay and the option of two extra months at half pay could be attractive to many.

7. Free fitness classes and gym memberships.

Tie in boxing classes or membership of a nearby gym with your employee reward system.

8. A strong emphasis on reading and learning.

When Googlers join the company they can choose three free books. This quick win is easily replicated, and it immediately establishes a culture of learning and growth.   

Creating an environment that keeps your employees happy is one that takes strategic buy-in from top management. But start by implementing two or three of these ideas. It could go a long way toward keeping your staff productive and loyal.