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High-Value Benefits

Google is known for offering its employees some incredible perks. Free meals. Incredible, fun office spaces. On-site massages. And more.

But there's one incredible benefit offered that you hope you never have to use.

The Google Death Benefit.

If you die while employed by Google, in addition to the payout your beneficiary would receive as part of the life insurance policy included in your benefits package, Google will pay your spouse (or domestic partner) half of your salary for ten years. They'll also pay you $1,000 per month for every child you have until the child turns 19, and any Google stock you have vests immediately. When I was a Googler, my wife and I calculated what I would be worth dead: it worked out to about $1.75 million. My in-laws, upon hearing this, suggested I have one of my young children taste my food before every meal.

The "death benefit" meant a lot to employees, because it helped answer a question that we've all likely wondered at some point: "What will happen to my loved ones if something happens to me?" By addressing an emotional need for employees, Google created a benefit that had extreme value, even if it might never be used. (I remember reading somewhere that Google has not had to pay out this benefit very often, fortunately, so the actual cost is negligible.)

When people think about "company benefits", they make the mistake of thinking about just the monetary stuff: healthcare, dental, paid time-off.

But great benefits don't have to be about money.

There are many benefits a company can offer employees that cost the company very little but mean a lot to employees.

Things like:

1) A paid day-off for your birthday every year, so you can spend it with loved ones. (Cost to company: one day's pay... technically. Except the grateful employee will almost certainly get all their work done that week anyway, so the actual productivity cost approaches zero.)

2) A paid day-off for your children's birthday every year, emphasizing a "family first" philosophy. (Cost to company: as above, multiplied by however many kids each employee may have. Value to employee: priceless.)

3) Allowing dogs to be brought to the office. This one might not be for everybody, but for those who think of their pets as "fur babies", the ability to be with them all day long is priceless. (Cost to company: the occasional carpet cleaning. Value to employee: priceless.)

4) Flexible hours: the ability to work the hours that suit your schedule best, as long as you get your work done. (Cost to company: zero. Value to employees who want to make time for their families and hobbies: priceless.)

It's possible you're a business owner or senior manager reading this list who thinks, "Yeah, right. That would never work at our company."

But most people also had that attitude about working-from-home.

Many employees would ask to work-from-home -- knowing that time not spent commuting would be added personal time -- and many companies would refuse, believing, "it just won't work here."

But when those same companies were forced to allow working-from-home on account of COVID-19, many discovered that productivity didn't go down at all... and that WFH policies might be viable even after the pandemic is behind us.

The very best benefits are the ones that address specific physical and emotional employee needs.

And if you can offer benefits that do that and also don't cost the company a lot of money?

You shouldn't be asking whether you should offer them or not.

You should be asking why you aren't already doing so.

- dp


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