A year after executives admitted in a closed door meeting that their management techniques were more comparable to the military than a corporation, Apple is starting soften up and offer employees better perks. Like its neighbor in Mountain View, the Cupertino company is piloting a program called "Blue Sky" that, among other mysterious things, invites a select group of employees to spend a few weeks working on unique special projects. One of those mentioned in a just published Wall Street Journal report about the program is a "a pet engineering project." We have absolutely no idea what that means, but we're hoping it's cooler than Sony's robot dog. (R.I.P.)
Like all things Apple, the details of Blue Sky are extremely secret. Most of those The Journal's Jessica E. Lessin was able to confirm are sort of boring perks regarding compensation. Apple is starting to get more assertive about keeping good employees from being poached by other companies by offering more handsome counteroffers. The company is also putting a new spin on compensation packages by showing the dollar amount of stock options to employees, rather than the number of shares. (There's not word yet on whether or not they've started paying their retail employees a living wage or not.) Non-boring perks include water slides, all night hackathons, all-expense-paid trips to Budapest and, of course,
free lunch death benefits. To our knowledge, Apple offers none of these. They are offering employee discounts on iPods now, though!