Sunday, 8 October 2006

Keeping the talent happy

In this article, Gigaom's Liz Gannes talks about one of the efforts that Yahoo takes to keep their most talented people around. Because technology companies like Yahoo, Microsoft or Google have to launch new products and generate new revenue streams continuously (mostly to keep investors happy). And it's the talent of their employees who make that happen.

So keeping those employees around is key. And that's not easy. In today's economy there's money available by either angel investments or venture capital for start-ups that may have "the next best thing". And many of today's successful start-up companies are founded by former employees of those tech giants. Not only that, there's always the competition who are on the lookout and use headhunters to pry away talented and creative employees. Often it's dissatisfaction with their employment that plays a big factor in their decision to leave in the first place.

So how do you keep them? Paying well and giving all the usual benefits is a given, but most companies try different things as well.
Knowing that creativity is often strangled in a large company, where bureaucracy and tight budgets rule, companies listen to people like Keiko Andrus of Intuit who has given numerous presentations (see the powerpoint slides on one he gave on the FOO camp on High Potential People here) on the subject and how employers can avoid their creative people feeling restricted.

Then there's the fact that creative people are the ones who are most curious and passionate about what they do, who joggle ideas around, who always want to come up with something cool or truly great. So in order for them to do just that, special projects/departments have been created. Google has Google Labs and their 20% rule, Microsoft has AdLab and Yahoo now has Brickhouse. All to give the talent the necessary tools and freedom to be able to be as creative as they want to be.

So keeping their creative employees happy is a challenge, but a necessity in order for the tech giants to keep their edge and their most valuable employees. But maybe all they really have to do to keep them happy is to keep the
supply of sodas high.

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