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4 employee benefits of the Google 20 percent project that all leaders-to-be should know about

Policies like the Google 20% project has great employee benefits such as talent development inside a company. Discover more here!

A happy employee is a productive employee and Google knows it all too well. That’s why the company allows their employees to dedicate 20% of their work time – one whole working day a week – to develop side projects. Some of the projects that have been dreamed up from this initiative called the Google 20% Project are Gmail, Google Maps and even Twitter. Nowadays this technique of employee motivation and internal talent development has spread throughout other high-tech companies in Silicon Valley such as LinkedIn. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? Despite receiving its fair share of criticism, the truth is that techniques such as the Google 20 percent project offer huge benefits for the employees of the companies that put them into practice.


What are the main benefits of the Google 20 percent Project?


  1. They provide employee empowerment:

Eric Schmidt, ex-CEO of Google, said at the time that policies like “20% time” are a way of empowering workers. In his own words: “so if an employee is under pressure and the manager says you gotta work harder, you gotta give me everything you have! That employee can legitimately look that boss in the eye and say I’ll give 100% of 80% of my time”. However, as noted before, there is some controversy over the accuracy of the Google 20 percent project. In fact, Marisa Mayer, current CEO of Yahoo and former Google engineer, say that instead of a Google 20% policy, in reality it’s more like a Google 120% policy, in that if workers want to undertake their personal projects within the company, they must invest many more hours than they are contracted for. So it’s the job of CEOs and team leaders to ensure correct implementation of this technique so that these kinds of initiatives really do bear fruit.

  1. They boost employer creativity:

Some of the detractors of this type of policies also question the legitimate use that workers will make of their free time. They argue that if each employee can devote 20% of their working time to doing what they want, there will always be someone who decides to spend the day checking their email or reading a book. But again, picking up from the words of Eric Schmidt: “and while the rule says you can do anything you want to with your 20% time, these people are scientists and engineers, so you’re not going to see work stray too far away from your core business, and that is the genius of 20%”. According to Schmidt, it’s more than likely that employees dedicate this time to projects related to the company itself or to projects that can adapt to it and benefit from it. That is why ideas such as creating an internal email for Google employees ended up becoming what we now know as Gmail. Therefore, policies such as “20% time” are a great initiative to boost the creativity of employees within an organization.


  1. They not only develop talent in an organization, but drive the company’s leadership:

Imagine being able to access all the resources of a large company such as Google for the development of your own project, and it ends up being the seed of a reality as big as Google Maps. That’s why initiatives such as the Google 20 percent project are essential to develop and retain our own internal talent and consolidate the prestige and leadership of the company. But the enormous effect of these policies when it comes to attracting talent is also unquestionable, without a doubt! Who wouldn’t want their personal project to end up influencing the dynamics of the entire world?


  1. They generate teamwork within different departments:

Working on your own project can mean putting into practice methodologies and resources that, until then, had not been tried out in the company. And for this same reason you can end up generating synergies and new relationships between departments that, otherwise, would be very difficult to achieve. Think about the enormous potential of the fact that two or three departments start working together for the first time. You just never know what could happen!


So, seeing the benefits you can get from the development of personal projects within a company, it’s important that every leader works on scheduling and putting this kind of technique to the test. If your company is open to receiving proposals for employee motivation, team building and the development of internal talent, why not consider actions such as the Google 20% project? It will be a way to show your desire to grow professionally within the company and a great example of proactivity.


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