Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks during an event in San Jose, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012. Apple Inc. is taking the wraps off a smaller iPad today, betting that a less expensive version of its tablet computer will help the company fend off competitors including Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc. and Google Inc. Photographer: Noah Berger/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Apple's habitat is changing. From engineers working on a pet project to employee discounts, Apple employees are seeing a change from the more austere regime under founder and late chief executive Steve Jobs.
The pet projects, the discounts and now highlighting stock grants by dollar amounts are now making Apple more attractive in recruiting in an ever perk-driven Silicon Valley, according to the Wall Street Journal. But Apple remained perk-less until relatively recently because Jobs and others believed "the opportunity to work at the company and on its popular products compelled people to stay."
Perhaps that's true, because Apple employees tend to be true believers. They would have to be to ignore the other perks -- like free lunches, massages and the like from other tech companies. It was actually likened to being part of the military.
However, under new chief executive Tim Cook, things seem to be changing. Cook lavishly praises employees at media events, he's introduced corporate benefits, a charitable matching program, sabbaticals and flexibility. The reason? Retaining employees.
The biggest lure is Apple's stock price, which is why the company has highlighted the dollar amount of the stocks rather than the number of shares. The company's pay rate is about the same as other Silicon Valley companies of its size, so it can really stand out by emphasizing its steady shares although they have been a little less as of late. So in order for Apple to keep its edge, it may have to start doling out perks.
Otherwise, Apple may be losing valuable employees. One executive at an executive search firm said that now Apple employees are picking up the phone when previously they wouldn't be interested in leaving.
Although the perks are mostly "symbolic" rather than in practice, it shows that Apple, a company that got along on its reputation needs to keep its employees happy to retain them. It's surprising that it took the company this long to figure that part out.