Great Britain was renowned for their elaborate walled gardens in the 19th Century, brilliantly and extensively decorated with labor intensive hedges, stone architecture and fencing. There was aesthetic appeal to walled gardens, but they served the functional purpose of keeping the heat in and the cold out through the cold, damp winter months amidst the north Atlantic. The walls helped plants thrive within the garden despite the elements outside intent on killing them off.
[postquote quote=”If your employees are your greatest asset, are you building an effective walled garden that will help them thrive as an employee?”]
The walled garden has become an analogy in the context of modern technology for a platform or service that relies on its closed nature to restrict access from the general public. For instance, a mobile operator like Verizon operates a wireless network which cannot be accessed by non-Verizon phones. Facebook is a walled garden that stores massive archives of content, messages and media hidden behind password protected login screens. But the walled garden of technology has both positive and negative connotations. Apple took considerable heat for several years for not allowing music to be downloaded and played on any service except iTunes and proprietary devices like the iPod.
Employers, too, are walled gardens.
Software developers and programmers across the globe clamor to work at Google. Why? Well sure, it’s the world’s number one search engine and most popular site on the Internet. But among other reasons, they have one of the most comprehensive and elaborate employee benefits programs in the world that promotes loyalty. Beyond the standard health & wellness programs, 401k offerings and vacation days is a long list of perks that reads more like the selling points for an exclusive country club membership: first-class dining facilities, gyms, laundry rooms, massage rooms, haircuts, carwashes, dry cleaning, commuting buses, child care, bike repairs, on-site oil changes and the list goes on.
[inlinequote quote=”The goal is to strip away everything that gets in our employees’ way. We provide a standard package of fringe benefits, but on top of that is… just about anything a hardworking employee might want. Let’s face it: programmers want to program, they don’t want to do their laundry. So we make it easy for them to do both. – Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google”]
As an employer, Google has created an effective walled garden with a world class employee loyalty and engagement strategy. The remarkable nature of being a Google employee is transmitted in the way their employee benefits package is presented. It’s rare. It’s exclusive. It says to the employee, “You are our greatest asset, and without you we cannot be Google”.
If your employees are your greatest asset, are you building an effective walled garden that will help them thrive as an employee? Are your inspiring a sense of loyalty that will make them think twice about jumping ship?