uh oh, what happened to my bank account?
i realized the root problem was that google's relocation process requires the employee to pay all the expenses up front and then get reimbursed for them later. that means you have to cover an apartment hunting trip, your final relocation, lease termination fees and temporary housing expenses all in advance. not to mention that they don't pay out your signing bonus and relocation money until your first paycheck (which i haven't received yet). finally, add in the fact that i had to put down two months rent as a deposit for my new lease, and i'm flat broke.
on the plus side, this first paycheck is going to be huge... (which unfortunately means i'll probably end up getting taxed huge on it. doh!)
which led me to thinking about the "benefits" package at google. as i thought about it, i realized that most of the "benefits" actually seem to be thinly veiled timesavers to keep you at work. take for example: free lunch and dinner. now this one is an awesome value proposition for google; i'm not exactly sure why other companies don't also recognize the value and join in. consider this: it probably costs google a maximum of $3 per employee for lunch and $5 per employee for dinner. so that's only $8 per day, but if you think about the fact that the employee now probably only takes a half hour lunch break and also stays late working, the company actually realizes far more than an $8 gain in employee output. not to mention that most people think this is a great "benefit" and google gets a ton of positive press on it. in short, this "benefit" is designed benefit the company, not the employee.
then look at all these other fringe "benefits": on-site doctor, on-site dentist, on-site car washes... the list goes on and on with one similarity: every "benefit" is on-site so you never leave work. i'm not going to say this isn't convenient for us employees, but between all these devices designed to make us stay at work, they might as well just have dorms on campus that all employees are required to live in.
next, let's look at the health care benefit provided. arguably, this is the biggest benefit companies pay out for their employees. google definitely has a program that is on par with other companies in the industry; but since when does a company like google settle for being on par? microsoft's health care benefits shame google's relatively meager offering. for those of you who don't know, microsoft pays 100% of employees' premiums for a world-class PPO. everything you can possibly imagine is covered. the program has no co-pays on anything (including prescription drugs); you can self-refer to any doctor in the blue cross blue shield network, which pretty much means any licensed professional; and you can even get up to 24 hour-long massage sessions per year.
lastly, google demands employees that are 90th percentile material, so what's with the 50th percentile compensation? the packages would've been decent when the company was pre-IPO, but let's be honest here... a stock option with a strike price of $188 just doesn't have the same value as the ones of yesteryear. even microsoft adjusted their base salaries to 66th percentile years ago when it was clear that their stock options weren't as much a part of the total compensation package as it used to be. for a post-IPO company like google, it only seems fair that they adjust things accordingly.
all in all, despite these rants, i still chose to come to google. the work environment, projects and risk/reward equation were all more enticing than up in redmond. but just like when you look for apartments in SF, no option is ever perfect.