Google's Eric Schmidt, Larry Page and Sergey Brin in a  self-driving car on January 20, 2011

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Google employees in Mountain View get free food, fitness facilities and on-site doctors

Such pay-offs show up in increased innovation and productivity

Today's employees want more than a paycheck

If you give employees freedom, they will surprise you

CNN  — 

They’ve got it all: Free food, fitness facilities, massage rooms, hair dressers, laundry rooms and on-site doctors. Are they Hollywood celebrities?

No, they’re Google employees in Mountain View, south of San Francisco, and if you’re an employee here you’re encouraged to spend 20% of your time on a project of your choosing. It’s no surprise Google places fourth on the U.S. Fortune ’100 Best Companies to Work For’ list.

First place belongs to SAS, the world’s largest privately held software company which offers free on-site medical care for employees and their families, low-cost high quality child care, a fitness center, library, and summer camp for children of employees.

How could this possibly pay off? “It pays off spectacularly,” says Milton Moskowitz, journalist and co-author of the Fortune ’100 Best Companies to Work For’ list since its beginning in 1998. “We keep track of stock market performances of companies on this list, and they are consistently outperforming other companies,” he adds.

The payoff shows up in increased innovation and productivity, low turnover, low sickness rates, and high employee satisfaction. In a world warring for increasingly sparse talent, a strong employer image is also not to be underestimated. “It means you can attract and attain some amazing people”, says Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google. “People who are exceptional and motivated, and who are driven beyond a good job and a paycheck.”