Google’s Retention Problem?

I had someone recently tell me that they were seeing more and Google people exiting the company after shorter periods of time. Assuming that’s true, and it is anecdotal empiricism, has it gotten that much worse to work at Google, given its size, or is something else going on?

You might blame the mini resurgence in consumer-centric stuff going on in the Bay Area, and that has certainly had an impact. Many ex-Googlers are off starting other companies, while others are cruising the world, or spending their days (ahem) training for triathlons.

But I want to suggest something else. For most of its young life as a public company Google has been able to wave its rapidly-appreciating stock at employees. That was a great goad to get people motivated and hanging around, but that’s now changed. The company’s stock has seen the worst trailing six-month performance in its history for the last few months, and trailing one-year numbers aren’t pleasant either. With the stock off more than 20% over the last six months, and down 4% over the last year, that has to be making some employees sit up and take notice that free food ain’t everything.