Pay your employees well and they’ll stick around, one bit of conventional wisdom goes.
In fact, a nationwide survey by CareerBuilder in 2014 found 66 percent of dissatisfied workers pointed to salary concerns as a reason for their disenchantment.
But what if you pay your workers too much?
Well, in Google’s self-driving car program, apparently they leave, having been made so financially comfortable that they felt secure enough to wave goodbye to the Mountain View tech icon — perhaps using the middle finger, according to a new report.
“For the past year, Google’s car project has been a talent sieve, thanks to leadership changes, strategy doubts, new startup dreams and rivals luring self-driving technology experts,” said a report Feb. 13 by Bloomberg. “Another force pushing people out? Money. A lot of it.”
It seems, according to the report, that staff brought on early in the project — which has now been spun off into its own company, Waymo — benefited from “an unusual compensation system” based on the project’s value that awarded “supersized payouts” that led to some “multi-million-dollar payments,” according to Bloomberg.
“By late 2015, the numbers were so big that several veteran members didn’t need the job security anymore, making them more open to other opportunities, according to people familiar with the situation. Two people called it ‘F-you money.'”
A spokesperson for Google’s parent firm Alphabet declined to comment to Bloomberg.
The result of the pay scheme? A “talent exodus” that came at a bad time for Google, when “the company was trying to turn the project into a real business and emerging rivals were recruiting heavily,” Bloomberg reported.
The precise basis for the pay structure was not discovered by Bloomberg, but compensation boosts “snowballed after key milestones were reached” even though the project’s goal of putting fully autonomous vehicles into public service for money was far in the future, according to the report.
Photo: A self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan from Google spin-off Waymo (courtesy of Waymo)